D-NH student hopes to raise money for service dog

Tessa Smith, a junior at D-NH High School, is hoping to raise enough money for a service dog with help from her family, friends and the community. (Courtesy photo)

DIKE-NEW HARTFORD - One local D-NH High School student, junior Tessa Smith, is on a mission to get herself a service dog, with a little help from friends, family, classmates and the community.


At just 18-months old, Tessa was diagnosed with a rare disease called Ataxia-telangiectasia, or AT. AT is a progressive, degenerative disease that affects part of the brain that controls muscles and movement, leaving many who are diagnosed - including Tessa - in a wheelchair.


The disease impacts a wide variety of muscle control, and progressively inhibits mobility, speech and other day to day functions. In addition, those diagnosed with AT often have immune system problems, particularly immunodeficiency, making the risk of getting sick much more deadly. 


Tessa, who has lived with the disease all her life, hopes that having a service dog will help her become more independent.


“I can’t do a lot of stuff on my own, and I think a service dog would help because it could help me open doors and turn on the lights,” Tessa said. “It would also help me feel more comforted and make it easier to talk to people and meet people.”


The breakfast will be held on Sunday, September 15 from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and a portion of the breakfast proceeds will be donated to Tessa’s family to help with the purchase of a service dog. There will also be a silent auction and bake sale.  For more information on the breakfast and donating, call Laura at 319-240-5432 or Burnette at 319-269-4596.


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