Leos buy service dog for local special-needs youth

By on January 1, 2010

Organization raises $14,000 for purchase
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Thanks to the Elburn Leos, Max Capes of Maple Park will have a new dog next summer, specially trained to assist this special-needs youth in daily living.

The Leos, a youth organization affiliated with the Elburn Lions Club, raised $14,000 this year for the dog from 4 Paws for Ability, which provides service canines for people with particularly unique needs.

Max, 9, was born with a genetic disorder making him hearing and cognitively impaired, and limiting his fine- and gross-motor skills. Leos President Alyson Rehr said Max’s mother asked whether the organization would help buy her son a guide dog. The youths were excited to help this local family.

“It’s cool for us because we see (Max) around and because we are keeping the money in the community,” said Rehr, an Elburn teenager.

Max Capes’ parents’ goal has been to keep taking care of their son at home rather than placing him in an institution, said his mother. With a service dog, that will continue to be possible.
Max received the news last month during the Leos meeting.

“I let the Leos tell him the good news…It was an amazing experience,” said Max’s mom, Carrie Capes.

The Capes family is scheduled to travel to Ohio in August for two weeks to be assigned a dog, and participate in its training with Max.

The Leos raised the funds to pay for Max’s dog by holding several fundraisers this year. Among those were selling concessions at the Lions Club fall car show,and root beer floats during Elburn Days, as well as holding several community breakfasts.

In past years, the Leos have paid for service dogs from Southeastern Guide Dogs for people with visual impairments. After the Leos decided to help the Capes family purchase a service dog for Max, they had to find an organization that would provide one that could meet his unique combination of disabilities.

4 Paws for Ability can provide Max with a dual-disability, hypoallergenic service dog trained for his specific needs, said Pam Hall, of the Elburn Lions Club. 4 Paws 4 Ability specializes in providing service dogs to individuals with several disabilities, as well as children, whereas many other organizations do not cross train and/or provide service dogs for anyone under the age of 18, Hall said.

Jan. 21, 2010 Clarification: A statement from Carrie Capes regarding the family’s goal of providing care for their son at home was made to the Elburn Herald in 2009 for a story about state funding and its impacts on local families with special needs children including Max Capes.

The Elburn Herald would like to clarify when that statement was made in order to provide accurate context of what was said and when.

The Elburn Herald wants its news reports to be fair and accurate. If you know of an error, please contact:
Ryan Wells, Editor
123 N. Main St., Elburn, IL 60119
e-mail: info@elburnherald.com
phone (630) 365-6446