Skylight Foundation Rallies to Help Fundraise for Service Dog for JJ
Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Skylight Foundation is rallying behind two of its own for a very “paws”itive cause! Skylight Financial Planner Bobby Barnes and his wife, Kathy Barnes, Skylight’s Chief Financial Officer, are fundraising for a specifically trained service dog to help their son, JJ. The Skylight Foundation wants to do all it can to help them raise these much-needed funds and to encourage donations.

Here we catch up with Bobby and Kathy to hear why a service dog would make such a world of difference to JJ.

Firstly, Kathy, could you tell us a little about your son JJ?

JJ is our adorable, laid-back 13-year old son. When he's not hanging out with his friends at school, he likes to swim, enjoys family movie night and he's a bit of a thrill seeker at Kings Island!

But JJ needs a lot of support. He was born fighting for his life.  At just a week old, he had surgery to help with breathing difficulties and this was followed by a long stay in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit at Cincinnati Children’s.  It was an incredibly scary time for us and we didn’t know whether he would make it.  The surgeons saved his life but he was later diagnosed with Bainbridge Ropers Syndrome, a rare genetic syndrome. which brings intellectual disability, feeding problems and difficulty with motor skills.  He can’t talk and has to go to the Children’s every six months a therapy program which lasts six weeks and includes 54 hours of therapy.  We can’t believe how far he has come – from having tubes up his nose, being on a ventilator to being able to feed himself and walking with a help of a walker.  He’s now even trying to walk without help.

Bobby, how would a service dog help JJ?

A service dog is task-trained to meet the unique needs of the child.  For JJ, the dog would help with a range of tasks like retrieving items, turning lights on and off, opening doors, hitting elevator buttons, getting a parent in the home, sleeping with him, and applying deep pressure therapy. 

Most importantly, the service dog would offer JJ friendship, independence, and security.

We have completed all the necessary procedures and medical approvals and are delighted to have been accepted into “4 Paws for Ability”.  They are a nonprofit organization, which places quality service dogs with children with disabilities.  The cost of training a dog is at least $40,000 and each family seeking a service dog is asked to raise $17,000.  That is our goal.

Once we raise these funds, out family will be placed on a training course and then there’s approximately a 2-year wait.  The training will take place outside Dayton for 12 days and will consist of one-on-one training with JJ and a dog trainer and then the family will join the training.

Kathy, what impact will a service dog have on JJ’s life?

It would be life-changing!  It would greatly improve his quality of life and help him gain independence.  JJ loves dogs so, on top of helping him in a practical way, the dog would be a constant friend to him. If JJ gets over-stimulated, the dog would have a calming effect on him and it would also help him socially.  For example, when you are out with a dog, people take an interest in the dog and it’s a great conversation opener – this would make JJ feel more included.

Bobby, what impact would this have for you and Kathy?

Having a service dog is as important to us as it is to him.  As parents, we are very excited and also a little anxious.  We see it as being able to give something precious and life-altering to JJ, our child who asks for nothing.  While most people, and even kids, get caught up with consumerism, JJ, wants so little.  He just looks for love and attention.

We would be so appreciative of any help in our fundraising efforts - $17,000 is a lot of money to raise!  Every little helps and it would go such a long way to helping us make a world of difference to JJ’s life and happiness.  Many thanks!

Thanks, Kathy and Bobby for sharing with us.  If you would like to help JJ and the Barnes family, you can do so now through our donation page.