A young girl in Lebanon living with Down Syndrome may soon get a service dog to help keep her safe if her family can raise enough money.
Five-year-old Maddie Hawkins tends to run away frequently. Doctor's call it elopement and say its related to her Down Syndrome.
"She's run from us in some of the most unsafe conditions. She's run from us in parking lots. She's run from us in the street with traffic," said Amber Hawkins, Maddie's mother. "Apparently it's pretty common in kids with Down Syndrome."
To help keep Maddie safe, her family has had to get creative. And they think the answer is something with four legs.
Maddie was recently approved for a multi-disciplinary service dog through the Ohio-based organization "4 Paws For Ability."
"He will go wherever she goes and if she decides to bolt and run, he will serve as an anchor for her and keep her from running," Amber said. "The dog will actually be able to scent and track her if she does get away."
It will cost the organization at least $22,000 to train and place a service dog for Maddie.
The Hawkins family is responsible for raising $15,000 to support the mission.
"The outpouring of love for her is amazing in this community," Amber said.
In addition to Down Syndrome, Maddie also has Graves' Disease and obstructive sleep apnea. She has stopped breathing up to 20 times one hour during her sleep.
The Pre-K student has had five surgeries in her short life. Most recently she had her thyroid removed to help with the auto-immune Graves' disease in which she had too much thyroid hormone in her body.
October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month and the family has a fundraising event planned for this weekend in Lebanon to help met their goal of $15,000 for Maddie's service dog.
The Hawkins family is looking for donations and volunteers at several upcoming fundraising events:
Community Yard Sale
Friday and Saturday, October 21-22
Beginning at 7 a.m.
West Hills Baptist Church in Lebanon
Sunday November 13
Fairview Church in Lebanon
Donations can be made at http://www.4PawsForAbility.org/donate-now.