UPDATE: The family was able to reach their monetary goal and will be able to get Lonnie his service dog!
MINERAL RIDGE, Ohio (WKBN) — The Sunday rain didn’t stop the Mineral Ridge community from coming out to support one of their own with a car show — all to get a local toddler a service dog.
Over 65 classic car owners came together at Mineral Ridge High School to support Brooke Kaschak and family in reaching their goal.
The 50/50 raffle, silent auction and concession proceeds all went toward getting 4-year-old Lonnie Kaschak a service dog.
“A service dog costs $9,000, so we’re hoping to raise it all,” said Brooke Kaschak, Lonnie’s mother. “It’s pretty amazing. I was not expecting this many cars.”
Lonnie has autism and was diagnosed at 3 years old. He’s nonverbal and can’t always communicate his needs or frustrations. His mom is hoping a service dog will help keep Lonnie safe.
“Lonnie likes to run away or elope when he sees something he likes without telling anybody because he’s nonverbal,” Brooke said. “The service dog, they teach them to tether, so there’s a way to connect him to the dog, give the dog a command and then he’ll sit there [and] keep Lonnie in place.”
Brooke says Lonnie is a friendly and loving toddler and believes he’s on the verge of speaking. A service dog would serve as a companion as he continues his journey.
“I knew nothing, that an autism service dog even existed until I saw him with our dog and he loves our dog,” Brooke said. “I started looking it up, and there’s so many benefits for it.”
Brooke says she’s grateful for the community support and wants other parents of children with autism to know about the potential benefits of getting a service dog.