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Benefit set Saturday in Aurora for autistic boy

by BOB GAETJENS | REPORTER Published: September 23, 2016 11:34 AM

Brayden Miller, 4, of Kent, likes to run. A lot.°

It sounds like a recipe for a healthy, happy child, but in Brayden's case, it presents a challenge, said his mother Christine Miller, a Streetsboro High School grad.

Brayden has autism and is non-verbal.

"He's a runner," she said. "He'll take off if you're not holding him."

The Streetsboro Knights of Columbus are hoping to help the family out by hosting a fundraiser to pay for a service dog through WAGS 4 Kids, a nonprofit organization that helps provide and train service dogs for autistic children, according to a flyer about the event.

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The event, a dinner, auction and reverse raffle, will take place at 6 p.m. Saturday at the parish center at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Aurora, 342 S. Chillicothe Road.

Knights of Columbus member Steve Kolar is donating food through his business, Special Moments Catering, and the Knights are organizing the event, which he said will feature a variety of raffle prizes, including Cavs tickets with a limo ride to and from the game.°

"There's a couple big prizes like that," Kolar said. "The goal is to raise about $9,000, which is the balance of paying for the trained dog for Brayden."

Kolar said he and the Knights have organized a 50/50 raffle, auctions and more. The event will include a full buffet and open bar, as well.

He said the WAGS 4 Kids program trains the dogs, which are matched with children.

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"I thought it was a great opportunity for the community and Knights of Columbus to get involved," he said.

Miller said a service dog will help prevent Brayden from running off, potentially into traffic, and provide him with companionship.

"He'll be tethered to the dog, and as soon as Brayden starts running, the dog will lay down and be his anchor," she said.

In addition to keeping Brayden safe, Miller said the dog will also help calm him in situations where he now becomes overstimulated.°

"He can't handle being in public," she said. "He has sensory overload and will have a meltdown."

Having a dog can act as a focal point for his attention and keep him calm in those situations, Miller said.°

Call Christine Miller at 330-257-6348, Vicki Miller at 330-256-3676 or Terri Corbett at 330-352-7731 for tickets, which are $50 apiece.

Having a companion may help improve Brayden's communication, she added.

"Brayden's going to teach the dog tricks, so they can communicate," she said. "He can communicate with him but he can't really talk. Sometimes the dogs actually make kids want to talk, too. Kids want to tell the dogs to lay down and stuff. We're hoping it will help him say his first words."

Brayden now communicates by pointing to a book full simple icons to indicate what he wants. It started with food, but Miller said he's moving into other areas. He also knows some basic sign language.

She said personnel from WAGS 4 Kids came to visit Brayden to learn more about him. Next, the organization will train the dog specifically to match his individual needs, based on the visit.

Miller said the dog will be either a golden retriever, Labrador retriever or labradoodle (a combination of a Labrador retriever and poodle).

Email: bgaetjens@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-5410-9440

Twitter: @bobgaetjens_rpc

Facebook: Bob Gaetjens

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