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Lagattolla: Family embraces ‘wonderful opportunity’

Published: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT
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The Elburn Lions Club is raising money for Kara Peters, 13, of Virgil. The money will pay for a dog to help Peters, who suffers from Down syndrome and autism.

Karol Peters says her family soon will welcome in a dog that will be much more than a family pet at their home in Virgil.

Peters’ 13-year-old daughter, Kara, suffers from Down syndrome and also has been diagnosed with autism. Karol Peters said it is difficult to take Kara on outings because there is a risk she might run off. Kara can’t communicate verbally, and her mom says there are safety concerns whenever Kara leaves the home.

But thanks to the Elburn Lions Club, a company called 4 Paws for Ability will find a trained service dog that will be a good fit for Kara’s situation.

Karol Peters said the dog will be able to track her daughter, if Kara were to leave the house. She said the dog likely will have a calming effect, and she hopes the dog will be able to make a connection and become “a comfort and Kara’s best friend.”

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for us,” Karol Peters said. “We have great hopes that it’s going to broaden Kara’s access to our world, versus her small world right now.”

The cost to train the dog is substantial, about $13,000. The Lions and Leo clubs will host a fundraiser at 3 p.m. Saturday at Lions Park, 500 S. Filmore St., Elburn. Pam Hall of the Lions Club said the dog has been paid for, and she hopes that the fundraiser will help replenish the funds and pay for more of the Lions Club’s charitable work.

The event will include a spaghetti dinner, which starts at 4:30 p.m. Other activities will include a bags tournament and raffle. A band, One Sam Ten, will be performing, playing songs from the 1960s and today, as well as some original songs. Sporting events will be on TV in the clubhouse. The cost is $12 for adults and $8 for those ages 3 to 12. Those 2 and younger are free.

Karol Peters is appreciative of the effort.

“Of course, it’s a huge gift to our family from the Lions and the Leos, and we are more than happy to take this adventure with them,” she said. “It’s a wonderful gift and something we would never be able to do [without their help]. We are thankful for their faith in us.”

Kara attends Geneva Middle School South as part of a program. She previously went to John Stewart Elementary School in Kaneland.

Karol Peters said her daughter has difficulty communicating and uses a special device that helps her communicate without speaking.

Those who know Kara well can understand about 30 words from her, and others would recognize very few. The dog, Karol Peters said, will bring safety and comfort.

“We are hoping it is going to make a profound impact on Kara’s life,” she said. “She is very in tune to animals … we are hoping it will provide access to the community.”

Bike parade in Sugar Grove

The JoJo and Friends community bike parade is set for July 4 at John Shield Elementary School, 85 S. Main St., Sugar Grove. Lineup begins at 12:30 p.m., with the parade starting at 1 p.m. Those interested are invited to decorate bikes, wheelchairs, strollers and wagons.

Sugar Grove Citizens of the Year sought

Nominations for the Sugar Grove Citizen of the Year award will be accepted until July 2. Applications are available at Sugar Grove Village Hall, the Sugar Grove Chamber of Commerce and at www.sugargrovechamber.org.

Past winners of the honor include Lil Adams, Beverly Holmes Hughes, Jim Wilhelm, Karen McCannon, Joe Wolf, Pat Graceffa, Karen Pritchard, Arnie and Byrel Liefheit, David Seraphin, Kevin Tindall, Delmar and Ruth Krieghbaum, Stan Anderson, Chris Dayvolt and Terry Siebert.

• Al Lagattolla is the news editor of the Kane County Chronicle. Write to him at alagattolla@shawmedia.com.

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