Susan Hardee Steger
It is a classic story of a boy and his dog and it captured the hearts and generosity of hundreds anxious to show their support. (click for previous story). Unofficial reports indicate the Sliders’ Project Chance Fundraiser not only reached its goal of raising $8,000, but exceeded its goal raising $11,000.
Jakob who faces the daily challenges of Asperger Syndrome, a developmental disorder that affects a person’s ability to socialize and communicate effectively, was a volunteer trainer for a number of special needs dogs. When “Campbell,” an English Creme Golden Retriever, entered Jakob’s life there was an immediate connection and Campbell became a soothing influence on Jakob’s life.
“What an amazing feeling it is to sit where we sit today,” says Jakob’s mother Melanie who was heavily involved in the volunteer effort. “What we never expected, or even considered, was exceeding our goal and having money left over to donate to other families who are currently fundraising to pay for their service dogs through Project Chance.”
It was George Stewart’s wife who recognized the need to help after reading an article about Jakob and Project Chance. “The outpouring of support from our community including the gifts, cash, auction items from area businesses was remarkable,” says Stewart, owner of the popular Sliders Grill. “A lot of hard work went into this event, and we were simply floored by the positive response. The place was packed!” Stewart credits the tremendous efforts of Cason Zylinski who oversees the fundraising for Sliders.
Stewart also praises newly elected State Senator Aaron Bean who successfully auctioned off a number of donated items. Bean who volunteers his services at countless fundraising events says, “I was overwhelmed by the generosity of our community. There was magic in the air at the Project Chance fundraiser, and I was pleased to be involved in this effort.”
And for Jakob’s family, they saw Fernandina at its finest. “What an emotional experience it is to feel the love and support from this generous community we live in AND to be able to share this feeling with others,” says Melanie. “Our children win and it’s all because we came together for a common goal. All children count and deserve the best shot we can give them! We did it and we did it together!”
December 20, 2012 5:11 a.m.