Local News

April 11, 2013

Weekend fundraiser to benefit boy with service dog

Manny Harris is an active and energetic 5-year-old, but unlike most 5-year-olds, Manny’s social developmental age is only about nine months.

“Manny doesn’t have any social ability to stay with us when we get out in public, so the minute you let go of his hands or he’s not in a wheelchair, he bolts, and he’s attracted to water and traffic,” said mom Jessi Harris.

The Rocky Face family is holding a fundraiser this Saturday at Mountain Creek Harley-Davidson at the Market Street Shops of Dalton to help cover the costs of training a service dog to stay with Manny. Harris said the boy has severe global developmental delay — a condition that means only his body is maturing while the rest of him is behind — as well as autism and NF1, which is a tumor disease. He is non-verbal.

The local Modern Woodmen of America chapter is matching up to $500 from proceeds raised at the fundraiser. That only partially covers the $12,000 it costs to obtain and professionally train the animal from Wilderwood Service Dogs in Maryville, Tenn., but it will help, Harris said.

There will be live music from Georgia Pine, Big Sky and Audi Burchett as well as inflatables, a bouncy house, raffle and food and drink. The suggested minimum donation to participate is $5.

The event will be Saturday from 1 to 6 p.m.

Harris said the family won’t know until later what kind of dog Manny will get, but the animal and Manny will likely be tethered to each other at least part of the time so the dog can prevent him from going somewhere dangerous. The dog will also be trained to track Manny’s scent in case he wanders off.

The family expects to get the dog at the end of this year or first of next year.

Jake Sane of Georgia Pine said he and his wife, Julie, a Modern Woodmen youth leader, have known the family for a long time and decided to help coordinate the fundraiser. Modern Woodmen is assisting with several items including raffle tickets, fliers and the matching donation, Julie Sane said.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/ServiceDogForManny.

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