My name is Leah Taylor, I first came across Appaws For Autism/Appaws Assistance Dogs charity back in April of 2016. I was searching for a charity to help our family obtain an Autism Assistance Dog for our son, Donté, who was diagnosed with Autism/Aspergers in November 2015. He requires help in many different areas & we decided an Assistance Dog would be ideal for his needs. After contacting the charity and finding out all the information, requirements & steps I needed to take to further our application, I started the ball rolling on the fundraising.
Fundraising can seem like an extremely overwhelming undertaking to start off with, but once you plan out your goals, ideas & networking plans, it really does become second nature very quickly. I made sure I contacted our local paper & other sources of local news platforms, even social media news platforms. We raised so much awareness by using this method not only about our story, but about ASD as a whole & those children on the spectrum have the option of an Autism Assistance Dog, which many people did not know was an option for ASD children/Adults.
We started raffles & contacted local businesses & even some large businesses like Blenheim palace & Cotswold Wildlife Park via email, to ask for ticket donations for our raffles. Our response was overwhelming & so many people wanted to be involved and donate to our raffles. We organised a live music evening at a local coffee shop, asked local singers if they would like to perform on the night & also held a raffle on that evening. The next event was a Family Fun Day & we sourced local businesses to come along and hold their own pitches for that day. We also held a raffle at this event.
We decided to open a GoFund Me account that we shared on social media for those who wanted to kindly donate money. One individual donated £2000 on our GoFund Me account! Which you can imagine, totally blew us away.
We also decided to open a group on Facebook so that we had a platform to update the public on our story, fundraising and progress of bringing an Autism Assistance Dog into our home. We found that doing this made the public feel more involved with us & our story, but also gave piece of mind that our cause was sincere.
Within three months, we raised the full £3000! It took a lot of hard work, a lot of time on social media & contacting many people, but this was so worth it as not only did we raise the money, but we raised awareness and met so many new people & also other families who had children on the spectrum.
This experience has opened so many doors for me. I have since been asked to be a Trustee & weekly blogger for the website for Appaws For Autism/Appaws Assistance Dogs charity. I jumped at this chance! I am now in the planning stages of starting ASD child play sessions & ASD adult support groups down in Oxfordshire which will start in January 2017. Whilst on this journey, I found that the ASD community in Oxfordshire is large & they are crying out for support sessions in our town.
The future looks positive. I’ve made many new friends, become part of an amazing charity that is full of heart & support & not only that but I’ve managed to give my son the opportunity to have the support he so desperately needs in an Autism Assistance Dog.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story. Don’t forget to keep up to date with my weekly blog by either visiting the Appaws website, our Facebook group – Appaws For Autism SC.046114 or by applying for the membership where you will be emailed my weekly blog posts.