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Kitz4Kids gala changing lives

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 3:51 PST, Tue January 14, 2020

Andrew Dolejsi loved kids and dogs. In his memory, his family created an annual fundraiser for the Autism Support Dogs program.

On Saturday (Jan. 18), supporters will gather at River Rock Casino Resort for the 12th Kitz4Kids event.

The Autism Support Dogs initiative is one of several programs run by BC and Alberta Guide Dogs. While dogs are provided free to participating families, advance training costs up to $35,000. 

For children with moderate to severe autism, a support dog can be hugely beneficial. These dogs help with safety, reduce stress for kids and parents, and aid in social interaction. 

The Autism Support Dogs program has a years-long waiting list, so they are not currently accepting new applications. However, those wanting to support their efforts can make a donation, sponsor a puppy, or apply to be a puppy trainer through the BC and Alberta Guide Dogs website.

Last April, Caleb, 7, was matched with support dog Cory (the Autism Support Dogs program’s 50th graduate). Since being matched, Caleb has started to interact with his brothers, taking their hands and engaging them in play, said his mom Heather. She will speak more about the program’s benefits at this weekend’s fundraiser.

River Rock waived the fees for room rental and ticket printing, allowing 100 per cent of proceeds from general admission tickets to go to the Autism Support Dogs program.


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