Many of us probably take for granted the simple things in life, like picking things up off of the floor, opening doors, and even taking off our socks and shoes. But for some people who have disabilities, these tasks can be a daily struggle. 5 News met one Marion County high school student who recently received a service dog from a local organization called Paws4People. Having man's best friend by his side makes these daily tasks a whole lot easier.
Alex Keefover is the first student in Marion County schools to use a service dog.
Meet Alex. He may look like your typical happy 18 year old high school student, but he struggles with something that most kids don't. Alex has cerebral palsy, which is a disorder that affects the brain and nervous system functions, like movement. Alex uses a wheelchair and a laptop to help him write. But a few months ago, he got another thing to help him get around: Kingsley.
"He does more than I ever thought possible," said Alex Keefover, East Fairmont High School student.
Kingsley is a service dog that does everything from pick up Alex's phone, open the door, and take his shoes and socks off.
"He drops things a lot, so one of the main things that Kingsley does for Alex is whenever he drops something, Kingsley's there to pick it up for him. He doesn't have to rely on a person to be right there with him all the time," said Jennifer Keefover, Alex's mother.
He can even recognize commands that are written on a card.
"After a dog is trained with 100 commands and critiqued for that particular individual, the dogs are worth $35,000," said Mark Reynolds, Director of Operations for Paws4People in West Virginia.
Paws 4 People is an organization that was formed in 1999 and it was developed to provide service dogs for children with disabilities and veterans. Dogs are raised and bred in North Carolina and trained in federal prisons in West Virginia and other states. Families who have received service dogs say they're a big help, but most of all they provide companionship.
"It's amazing just how much freedom it gives Alex and he's in high school so the dog is a big chick magnet, which will help him next year in college," said Jennifer Keefover.
"This is a great program and I don't know what I would do without him. It will change your life forever," said Alex Keefover.
Paws4People provides service dogs to families free of charge. The location in downtown Fairmont is opening a new thrift store to help pay for those costs. Everything in the store is tax-deductible and will benefit children with disabilities. Supporting the store will help Paws4People provide more dogs to families who need them in West Virginia.
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