Boy starts fundraiser to buy service dog for friend

A Puyallup boy with P.O.T.S. is trying to get a service dog, but they can cost $30,000. His community is rallying to raise the money.

PUYALLUP, Wash. (KING) -- It started with one student at Edgerton Elementary, and his letter to the principal.

Spencer Hensley wrote, "unfortunately, I know a smart kid who used to come to school, but doesn't get to anymore. His name is Connor, and he is 12 years old."

His letter went on to ask the principal for permission to put together a fundraiser, selling bracelets to raise money for his friend, Connor McKenna. The principal said yes, and Spencer says they raised $1,000 in about six weeks.

The money is a part of a community effort to help Connor.

He was diagnosed in October with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, according to mom, Heidi McKenna.

"Basically, his brain does not get enough blood at any given time," said McKenna.

As a result, he can faint as well as experience insomnia, headaches, and dizziness.

McKenna says her son has fainted at least 15 times since October. That's why the family wants to get a service dog, but McKenna says insurance does not cover the $30,000 price tag.

"If  he's going down to the side or backwards, the dog watches for those cues and will try to help break the fall so that he doesn't hit his head every time he faints," said McKenna. "They can sense the change in his heart rate and his blood pressure, and sometimes they can predict his episodes up to 15 minutes beforehand."

Currently, Connor only can attend a few hours of school a day as long as his mom is by his side. Instead of constant supervision, he wants a service dog. He thinks, with that kind of assistance, he will eventually be able to return to school full time.

"That way I can start living more of a normal life, even though it wouldn't exactly be normal. I would be able to have a little more independence," said Connor. 

The McKenna family has almost raised half of their fundraising goal. Once they have the money, they will be added to a waiting list for a service dog. McKenna says the process could take anywhere from three months to five years.

Copyright 2017 KING


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