Striving to help her son "feel like a 3-year-old boy," Cartersville native Jordan Melson Allen is delighted to be on the cusp of providing Cade a loyal, four-legged assistance companion.
If needed funds are obtained, the chocolate lab named Captain will join their family as her son's service dog, providing companionship and care when a medical situation arises. A Rockmart resident, Cade was diagnosed with nonverbal autism at 2 1/2 and epilepsy soon thereafter.
"One year ago sitting in speech therapy, what I always thought was Cade daydreaming became the very beginning of his epilepsy," said Allen, a project coordinator for Shaw Custom Rugs at Shaw Plant No. 94 in Cartersville. "Shortly after therapy, we had several appointments with specialists who immediately referred for EEGs [electroencephalograms] to see what we were dealing with. They confirmed at this moment of testing Cade was having 44 seizures in a one-hour time period. As he grew older, the seizures got stronger. We went from absent staring-off seizures to drop seizures and [grand] mal.
"… We have now, 10 months later, found the best formula of medications that work for Cade. He still experiences severe seizures daily requiring the use of his helmet. We've visited our local ERs several times due to falls from seizures. As of today, Cade is enrolled in our local school system attending special need classes and participating in Special Olympics to the very best of his ability. We could not be more proud of the adversity he has overcome thus far. What we cannot wait for is the moment the school yearbook pictures roll around. We pray Captain will be pictured next to him for the remainder of his schooling years."
Calling the fundraiser "crucial" to her family's efforts to bring Captain home, Allen and her husband, Joshua, have created a GoFundMe account — Cade Get's A Service Dog! Trying to raise $12,000 by Sept. 14, the funds will go toward an 8-week training program for Champion, who is being donated to the Allens by their friend, Carly Bucy.
"The doctors highly recommend a service dog for Cade as well for his autism," she said. "Cade will rely on Captain to keep him safe, but they both will rely on each other for their emotional bond. Cade is a nonverbal autistic. If you speak with Cade, you will have a hard time understanding his language. It's relative to 'Despicable Me' minions. As a mom, you always worry. To me, this will allow a peace of mind. Also, I will always know he has a best friend by his side through therapy, school and the memories of a lifetime to follow.
"To those who have donated, prayed for us along this journey and supported us: We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We are filled with so much happiness to see our community come together and support our son. All the glory goes to God as He has paved our way. Our faith has grown stronger, brought us together as a family so much closer and we feel we can endure anything. This is now Cade's time to shine — to feel like [a] 3-year-old boy."
Echoing his wife's comments, Joshua Allen also is grateful to those who have donated to their GoFundMe account.
"To the ones who have already donated, we are very grateful as there is no way possible for us as a family to come up with that amount of money in this short of a time frame," he said. "For my son, I see it as an extra set of eyes to care for our child to support him and provide companionship that is very much deserved.
"These falls our son has with seizures have taken a toll on Cade with physical injuries as well as emotionally. Captain will be able to break his fall and provide the comfort needed if we are too many steps away."
For more information about the Allens' fundraiser, visit www.gofundme.com/cade-gets-a-service-dog.