Family reaches service dog fundraising goal

Joshua’s family successfully raised $15,000 through pancake breakfast and silent auction events, and other fundraiser events so to get him a service dog to assist him with complications associated with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

A family on a mission to raise funds for a service dog for their 5-year-old son has reached their $15,000 goal in two short months.

In September, the Brainerd Dispatch shared the story of Joshua Pence, a boy diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder whose adoptive parents, Chris and Megan Pence, felt would benefit from a specially trained service dog. The Pences adopted Joshua as an infant after six months of foster care. They were aware he faced some health difficulties, although the extent of his struggles became more clear when he received his diagnosis.

Five-year-old Joshua Pence, pictured here posing with one of his family’s pet chickens this September, is officially in line to receive a service dog to assist him with complications associated with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Joshua’s family raised $15,000 to cover the cost of a service dog over the course of two months through a pancake breakfast and silent auction event, a fundraiser with Culver’s in Baxter and various donations through a fundraising website. (Brainerd Dispatch, Steve Kohls)

The disorder brings along a whole host of other disabilities: sensory processing issues, a behavioral disorder and childhood apraxia of speech, which is a disorder that makes it difficult for Joshua’s brain to translate his thoughts into spoken words.


A furry friend trained to assist with these issues is now certain to become a member of the Pence family after they learned last week they’d achieved the fundraising goal to raise money for 4 Paws for Ability. 4 Paws for Ability is an Ohio organization that, according to its website, is the first and perhaps only organization to place service dogs for children suffering from FASD.

The Pences are now on a list to receive a dog in June 2017. Although Chris said it will be “quite a long year and a half away,” this reflects the sheer number of children also in need of service dogs who are listed ahead of them.

“We’re just really fortunate,” Chris said. “It’s very much a miracle that we’ve been able to raise the amount of money we’ve been able to raise.”

The Pences raised a little less than half the funds through a fundraising website. Another $6,500 was earned through a pancake breakfast and silent auction event at Pointway Church in October. Culver’s in Baxter donated 10 percent of its sales one day and accepted donations, raising $2,500.

“We think this is really going to be something that’s a game changer for him as he goes forward, to really give him some more freedom and independence so he can grow up and do well,” Chris said in September. “Kids with fetal alcohol (disorders), it never goes away. As he gets older, his brain is not able to really make sound decisions. Having this dog there with him should help to balance some of that out.”

Although they’ve achieved the goal that places them in line for a service dog, the Pence family is not done raising funds. They are now accepting donations directly to their family to support the costs of fencing in a portion of their backyard and to offset the costs of the two-week trip to Ohio the six-member family will take to get trained in with their new pup.

“We’re just very thankful of the generosity of people,” Pence said. “As soon as we get the dog, we’ll show him or her off to everyone.”

To donate to the Pence family

• Send a check to Chris and Megan Pence, 20415 Whitetail Drive, Brainerd 56401.

CHELSEY PERKINS may be reached at 218-855-5874 Follow on Twitter

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