Every day, families around the country are raising money so their children with disabilities can receive service dogs to improve their lives. You can learn about Marlena Whitehead below. Please help make this dream come true!Browse All Dreams
Marlena Whitehead is an extraordinary girl, full of giggles and fierce curiosity. She is sweet, bubbly, vibrant, and determined. She is a twin to her brother Logan, and they are our three-year-old miracle babies.
Marlena’s challenges became evident to us when she was about 12 months old. Since then, she’s regularly attended various therapies, and seen countless specialists in regards to her severe low muscle, global delays, and feeding difficulties. This April, following an extremely lengthy process of genetic and neurological testing, Marlena finally received a diagnosis of Rett Syndrome.
Rett Syndrome is a rare genetic neurological disorder that occurs almost exclusively in girls and leads to severe impairments, affecting nearly every aspect of the child’s life: their ability to speak, walk, eat, and even breathe easily. Rett Syndrome is caused by mutations on the X chromosome on a gene called MECP2. Rett syndrome can present with a wide range of disability ranging from mild to severe.
Rett Syndrome will try to take a lot away from our daughter, but it has not predetermined her life story; she will show us what she can and cannot do, and we will follow her lead, and do every single thing we can to support her. One of the greatest things we feel we can do for her is to provide her with a service dog, and we are so grateful that she has been accepted to receive one through 4 Paws For Ability.
Her dog will be trained as a multipurpose service dog, and will be specifically trained to assist in mobility tasks, behavior disruption, balance, stand and brace, retrieval, pushing automatic buttons, opening and closing doors, turning lights on and off, assisting with dressing, and potentially alerting to seizures (as there is a high likelihood of Marlena experiencing seizures in her life due to Rett Syndrome).
Thank you for reading our story!
How Can You Help?
It costs 4 Paws between $40,000-$60,000 to raise, train, and place a service dog. Our family has to raise $17,000 of that to pay for a service dog.
Donations by check in support of Marlena Whitehead should be made directly to 4 Paws for Ability – be sure to write Marlena Whitehead on the memo line.
Mail checks to: 4 Paws for Ability In Honor of Marlena Whitehead 207 Dayton Ave. Xenia, Ohio, 45385
If you wish to make an online donation directly through the 4 Paws For Ability website, click HERE. Be sure to include Marlena Whitehead in the memo line so that the amount is credited to the correct account!
If you would prefer to make a credit card payment over the phone, please call 4 Paws For Ability at 973-374-0385, Monday through Friday, 9am to 4pm.