On May 23rd, 2016, William Snyder of Baltimore will celebrate his 13th birthday. Turning 13 is a major milestone for most youngsters, but for William, it is especially meaningful. At the tender age of fifteen months, William, the son of Lori and Ron Snyder and big brother to 9-year-old twins, Megan and Marissa, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. After enduring multiple hospitalizations, chemotherapy and surgeries, William’s cancer went into remission. Mercifully, he has remained cancer-free the past eleven years.
Today, William loves baseball, roller coasters, swimming and many other pursuits. But the cancer left William with some significant challenges. He is deaf in one ear and hard of hearing in the other, has learning disabilities, developmental delays and periodically, William experiences seizures.
“Once he was old enough to remember the seizures, William developed a fear of sleeping in his own room,” recalls his father, Ron. So, for about two years, William slept on a mattress in his parent’s bedroom. Though William’s fears were completely understandable, Ron and Lori realized they needed to come up with a better solution.
|William and Asha|
After doing some research, they discovered 4 Paws for Ability, a nonprofit organization based in Ohio, that trains and places service dogs with children with disabilities. At first, Ron and Lori didn’t think William would be a candidate for a service dog since he wasn’t blind or visually impaired. Then they learned that service dogs are trained to work with children who have all kinds of special needs. There are service dogs for children with seizures, autism, diabetes, mobility disorders, hearing impairment, fetal alcohol and drug syndromes and multiple disabilities. 4 Paws also provides service dogs for disabled veterans.
4 Paws seemed like the answer to their prayers. Yet, the Snyders had lots to do before they could bring William’s service dog home to Baltimore.