CALGARY- A local family is on a fundraising mission, in hopes of helping an organization that is changing their son’s life.
11-year-old Jakob Furdal has Down Syndrome, is non-verbal and at times withdrawn.
“He requires support from us on a daily basis to get through the day,” explains Jakob’s dad, Ken Furdal.
But his parents discovered there is one thing that completely changes him—dogs.
“It’s amazing, overwhelming when your son comes out of his shell and starts to engage and not be despondent,” Ken says. “To find something and take control, it empowers him. It’s a great, warm feeling.”
“Jakob becomes a different child,” adds his mother, Jo-Lynn Furdal. “With an animal he’s available, he smiles again.”
With that in mind, the family came across the organization Dogs With Wings, which is pairing Jakob with a furry partner. Volunteers help train the canines, which then serve as assistance dogs for Albertans living with disabilities.
“The greatest thing is the pride you feel after you’ve done it, when you give them up knowing you built the foundation that they’re gonna be a service dog,” says Raylene Middel, who helps raise the puppies.
It costs thousands of dollars to properly train the dogs, which are then given to families for only $1. The Furdals now want to pay their gift forward by fundraising, so another family can have the same opportunity.
“I want someone to have same opportunity as we have,” says Ken. “It’s a big step for us.”
He plans to run the full Scotiabank Calgary Marathon in May, to try and raise $40,000 for the cause. So far he’s gotten over $9,000 in pledges.