BENJAMIN & HACHI NEED YOUR HELP
Benjamin Babboni turned 11 years old on May 27th, 2017. He is the son of Julie, a former Special Education teacher, and Lt. Col. Joe Babboni, a B52 Pilot for the United States Air Force in his 19th year of service. He has 3 siblings - Jonah (9), Noah (8), and Luci (1). His family has received word that his father Joe will be deploying this winter for 6-12 months, leaving Julie with her hands very full.
Benjamin has ESES Epilepsy, Autism, Global Developmental Delay, Hypotonia, and Ataxia. Luckily, Benjamin has had his loyal service dog, Hachi, by his side helping him through life for the past 5 1/2 years. Hachi is a multipurpose service dog who has done more for Benjamin than his family or any therapist ever could. He has been trained to alert for seizures, can track Benjamin in case he ever gets away from his family, and most importantly, he is used for mobility supported by tethering. This tethering allows Benjamin to walk around in public without the use of his wheelchair. His wheelchair and Hachi are his only 2 options, and for nonverbal child (with no understanding of danger) with low muscle tone and balance problems, this method of mobility support is LIFE CHANGING for Benjamin. Hachi does everything and goes everywhere with Benjamin, including flying out of state for treatments, going to school, attending therapy appointments, running simple errands, and even going down the slide at the playground. Hachi makes Benjamin and his family feel safe.
Three months ago, Hachi was playing a game of fetch with Benjamin and tore his cruciate ligament in his hind leg. Even with surgery and therapy, Hachi can no longer support Benjamin’s weight. Now that Benjamin has lost the use of mobility support he now has to limit the time he spends out of his wheel chair. In just these three short months, Benjamin’s lack of mobility has caused his muscle tone to deteriorate at a drastic rate. This deterioration has caused his kneecaps to become very “loose.” Benjamin’s Orthopedic Dr. has informed his parents that he will most likely dislocate them whenever he falls making his already limited time out of his wheelchair to almost zero.
Benjamin doesn’t understand that Hachi is injured - he still tries to hold on to his color to get him to walk. Hachi can still alert for seizures and track him, but the time has come for Hachi to retire from service life and just be Babboni’s dog. However, Benjamin is still in need of a service dog that can act as mobility support.
The Babboni’s had to raise $13,000 for Hachi, and now must raise $8500 for the second dog. The have collected just a little over $800 so far. This service dog must be trained to track Benjamin, alert for seizures, help him with his balance, and support him when getting in and out of his wheelchair. Once the money is raised, Benjamin and his family will travel to Ohio to be paired with his new service companion and go through a 2 week training course. After that they must re-certify the dog every year to make sure the dog is current on all training.
The Non-Profit organization they will go through is 4 Paws for Ability Inc. 4 Paws for Ability enriches the lives of children with disabilities by training and placing quality, task-trained service dogs. This provides increased independence for the children, and assistance to their families. And 4 Paws also works with veterans from recent conflicts who’ve lost the use of their limits or their hearing while in active combat. In all cases, the realists speak for themselves. Lives are transformed. 4 Paws founder, Karen Shirk is alive today because of her service dog, Ben. Karen was home after open-heart surgery when a deadly mix of meds left her barely conscious and fighting for life. The phone rang and rang. Ben finally picked it up and placed it beside her, then began to bark. It was her dad, and he rushed over an got her the help she needed.
We hope you will take the time to consider helping the Babboni family and in the process raise awareness o how life changing these serviced dogs really are.
They truly are man’s best friend.