A site search for “Durango, CO” on the crowdfunding site GoFundMe recently returned more than 450 campaigns with Durango connections, most of them directly involving our friends and neighbors right here in Southwest Colorado.
Take the time to explore them, but prepare to be humbled by the scale of the challenges facing so many in our area due to illness, accidents or unforeseen tragedies like house fires.
Prepare to be heartbroken as well, for some of the stories can be described in no other terms.
You will also be inspired, especially by those who are seeking help in achieving their dreams in education, travel and adventure. Impressed as well by how thoughtful the requests are, and how little money most are seeking to make a huge difference in their lives.
You will be pleased that our community is living up to its reputation as a generous one: The campaign for local teen Wiley Corra, for example, badly injured in an accidental fall, has raised more than $72,000 of its $75,000 goal in just a month.
But at times, some worthy campaigns don’t seem to get noticed. One effort that deserves our attention is Megan Smith’s “Gettin’ Gordie” (www.gofundme.com/gettin039-gordie), set up to raise $4,000 to adopt a service dog for Smith’s 12-year-old daughter, Lael.
Lael struggles with sensory and mood disorders that turn her everyday middle school life into a series of difficult challenges, and a service dog will provide her with constant and calming support. In her research, however, Smith found that obtaining a fully-trained service dog can take up to two years and cost $25,000 or more, a prohibitive amount for a single, working parent.
The good news is that Smith has found just the dog. Even better, Gordie, a pointer-boxer mix rescued from a shelter near Gallup, has been trained in psychiatric service work by certified trainer Marcy Eckhardt at Durango’s pranaDogs Behavior and Rehab Center. Gordie is a great match for Lael, and in service-dog terms, is a bargain.
“We fostered Gordie at our house, and they already have an amazing bond,” said Smith. “But it is more than just having him as a buddy. With him her confidence goes up and her whole outlook is brighter. If we are able to have him full time, it will only get better.”
With help from her mother, Smith thought she had the funds she needed to adopt the dog, but her mom is now urgently in need of medical care. So Smith has set her hopes on GoFundMe. Adopting Gordie will cost $3,500. Smith would like to use the additional $500 for some additional training sessions.
“The biggest change has been in the mornings,” Smith said. “When we had Gordie, he would hear her alarm and help her get up. We struggled for months with her refusing to go to school. With Gordie, she was up and at ’em.”
That good start, Smith added, almost always extended to the rest of Lael’s day.
So far, the effort has raised just $100 toward the goal. It’s a start, but we can do better; Smith is hoping to complete the adoption by the end of May.
This much is obvious: Gordie is the right dog for the right kiddo, and he is certainly available for the right price.
The rest is up to us.