THE family of an autistic boy fund-raising to get him a specially trained dog said they have been ‘overwhelmed’ with the support they have received so far – even getting interest from BBC2.
Little Luke Bennett, of Demontfort Way, Uttoxeter, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) last February and after only just starting raising funds for specialist dog Tilly, the family was already raised 25 per cent of the total needed.
A big boost in the fund-raising, which sees the family hoping to raise 4,858 euros to bring Tilly over from Ireland, has come from a hot chocolate and big muffin sale at Thomas Alleyne’s High School, organised by Luke’s sister Alexis, which raised £701.69.
The four-year-old’s mother Andrea thanked The Advertiser for bringing the mammoth challenge to the attention of the public, which has boosted the fund-raising and also urged others to get in touch in a similar situation.
She said: “We would just thank all those who have donated and also Thomas Alleyne’s School for being so generous in allowing Alexis to have her sale at the school. Their support and kindness has been so overwhelming.
“We are just so happy and thrilled with Alexis’s fund-raiser so we wanted to share the total.”
The family’s next fund-raising event will be a bake sale in front of Uttoxeter Town Hall on Saturday.
To add to their delight, the family has been contacted by Joe Fowler who is looking for puppies for their new show on BBC2. Although Tilly would be too old for the show, he wanted to speak to them in the hope of being directed to others in a similar situation.
Mrs Bennett added: “We have chatted with him and tried to hopefully point him in the right direction to others getting puppies that will later grow up to be autism service dogs.
“He’s sent a poster to put up on Luke’s page, hopefully it will help and bring awareness to autism service dogs.
“I’ve had a few messages sent saying people have never heard of these service dogs. I was shocked. This show will be amazing I really hope they find a family that will welcome this show, would be amazing to bring awareness to autism and also the service dogs.”
A woman called Teresa, from Hanley, also contacted Mrs Bennett after seeing the article to say she is sending her puppy to the same place in Ireland as she has a daughter with autism and wanted to talk to someone in the same situation.
The family hopes that Tilly will help Luke to move forward and also keep him safe as his mother said he is a ‘boulter’ and does not have any awareness of danger.
She will also keep him calm when he becomes over-stimulated, particularly in crowded areas, which will hopefully prevent him from throwing a tantrum.
More information is available on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LukeandTilly or www.mycharity.ie/event/lukes_fundraiser/