“It’s just incredible,” Lisa Moss said. “We are so overwhelmed. I have been so awestruck at the generosity of not just our community, but people outside our community who aren’t connected to this area.”
Evan, who lives in the Alexandria area, has severe epileptic seizures, and a specially trained “seizure dog” can detect a seizure before it happens, alert his parents and help guide Evan in crowded places. At a book signing for “My Seizure Dog” last month, several people brought such dogs to meet Evan, and one teenager told him that his dog had saved his life “multiple times,” Lisa Moss said.
But it gets better: Evan went so far over his goal that the group who trains the dogs, 4 Paws for Ability, is going to be able to provide dogs for at least two other children who had established funds, Moss said.
Karen Shirk, the executive director of 4 Paws, said that because more than $20,000 had been raised, the group will direct the extra money to two other families who have been working for years to raise $13,000, but haven’t been able to do it. In addition to sales of the book, Evan’s fund received donations by numerous readers of The Washington Post, who reached out after reading our first article.
And there’s more good news:
An anonymous donor who contacted the Mosses wants to contribute to the funds of two more children, and will help them get seizure dogs as well, Shirk said Tuesday. So Evan’s effort, and the publicity it attracted, may have helped purchase dogs for five children who needed them.
Evan will not get his dog until next June, Shirk said. Because of his physical ailments, including tuberous sclerosis complex, he needs a hypoallergenic dog, and that dog has just recently begun training, which takes at least a year.
“We’re as happy as the family,” Shirk said from Xenia, Ohio, where she oversees the training of 200 dogs for various service uses. “We’re so excited now because we’re going to be able to help several families who have been trying hard for a long time. And over 13 years, we’ve lost a few children before they got their dog.”
So how is Evan taking all this adulation? “He was really excited about everything,” his mother said. “Every now and then, we’ll hear him comment that he might be famous now.
“But he’s also taking it in stride,” she added. “The other day I read him a story off of my phone. He listened very politely, then he said, ‘OK, can I watch YouTube on your phone now?’ ”
And Evan won’t forget the little people on his rise to stardom, either. At his book signing, at Grounded Coffee on July 24, people came from as far as New Jersey and Pennsylvania to buy a book, and some stood in line even after all the books were gone just to meet Evan. But when his first-grade teacher from Rose Hill Elementary School, Stella Centanni, showed up, Evan spotted her through the window. She had taught the “writer’s workshop” which gave Evan the idea to write a book to raise the money.
The books were sold out. But Evan pulled out one he had hidden, and already signed, for Centanni, his mother said. He raced outside, gave her a big hug and handed her a signed copy of “My Seizure Dog.” That probably made her feel pretty good.