Island Falls family looks for help getting assistance dog for 5-year-old

Posted March 07, 2013, at 12:57 p.m.
A benefit spaghetti supper will be held at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, March 10, at the Island Falls Municipal Building to help raise funds to buy a specially trained assistance dog for 5-year-old Faith McNally, who suffers from spina bifida and life-threatening seizures.
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A benefit spaghetti supper will be held at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, March 10, at the Island Falls Municipal Building to help raise funds to buy a specially trained assistance dog for 5-year-old Faith McNally, who suffers from spina bifida and life-threatening seizures.

ISLAND FALLS, Maine — The southern Aroostook community is being asked to rally to the aid of a 5-year-old girl in need of medical assistance.

Faith McNally, the adopted daughter of Bruce and Beverly McNally of Island Falls, suffers from spina bifida and life-threatening seizures.

“Whenever I see my niece, Faith, she asks me to take her temperature,” said Michele King. “I put my hand on her head and tell her ‘you’re normal.’ She insists she’s 98.4. But really, normal doesn’t describe Faith; she’s really extraordinary.”

When King first met her three years ago, the child could only scream as a method of communication. Now, the youngster counts, sings, prays and tugs at heartstrings when she says, “I need a hug.”

Bruce and Beverly McNally took Faith into their home, first as a foster child and then as their adopted daughter.

“They knew there would be challenges because of her many health issues,” King said. “Although this creates difficulties and hurdles, with the help of family, friends and medical assistance, Faith is progressing really well. Everything can be managed, scheduled, and adjusted in their lifestyle to accommodate such a special child.”

One of the biggest challenges is the fear of seizures, which could become life threatening if they happen when she is unattended, like when she is lying in her bed at night.

“One morning, they found Faith had a seizure in the night and she was unresponsive,” King said. “Since then, they live in fear of being asleep when their child needs them the most. This is when CARES enters their story.”

CARES — Canine Assistance Rehabilitation Education and Services — is a not-for-profit organization in Concordia, Kan., that trains and matches “assistance dogs” with the various needs of owners.

“Although it is still a mystery how a dog can sense a seizure, having a dog be able to alert caregivers gives peace where anxiety previously resided,” King said. “Faith, her mom, and her big brother and registered nurse, Shaun, go to Concordia this month to bond and train with their new friend.”

The dog will cost them $2,500 in addition to the expense of travel and a hotel.

King also happens to be chief administrative officer for Brave Hearts, a non-profit Christian-based home for young men located in Island Falls. Brave Hearts is sponsoring a fundraiser for Faith at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, March 10, at the Island Falls Municipal Building. This spaghetti supper will accept donations at the door and the Friends of Faith group will raffle several quilts.

For more information, or to make a donation, contact Brave Hearts at 207-463-2126.

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