Carter Blanchard is an 8-year-old boy from Arkansas. Three years ago, he and his mother, Stephanie Adcock, noticed something strange happening with his skin. He was starting to get spots on his face and body that were much lighter than his regular skin color. Carter was diagnosed with a rare skin disorder called vitiligo. Vitiligo is characterized by the skin losing pigment in various patches all over the body. Stephanie says her son struggled heavily with his unique appearance. “I used to pick up Carter from school from kindergarten and first grade, and the first thing he would say is that he hates his face and hates his skin,” she told KATU.
That is, until he found a canine companion on the Internet. The same year as Carter, a Labrador Retriever named Rowdy started developing strange white patches of fur on his usually black coat. His owner, Niki Umbenhower, was surprised to learn that her dog also suffered from vitiligo. “I read that Rowdy had Vitiligo and I was blown away, and when I showed Carter he was so excited to see a dog that was famous for his Vitiligo,” Stephanie said. Stephanie and Niki have allowed Carter and Rowdy to keep in touch online, since Niki and Rowdy live 2,000 miles away in Oregon. The two have overcome their vitiligo together, sharing their new spots and giving Carter some much needed confidence. Thanks to the incredible generosity of strangers, the two were able to meet for the first time last week. The experience was unforgettable.
Using a GoFundMe account, the two families, plus one more, are working to raise funds to let Carter and Rowdy meet in person for the first time. Stephanie knows the impact Rowdy has made in Carter’s life. “[Rowdy] really changed the way he saw his own skin. It wasn’t a problem anymore. So ever since then, we have been keeping in touch,” she says. But Niki and Stephanie know that time is of the essence here, because Rowdy is almost 14-years-old. “He’s almost 14, he will be 14 in May… I feel like he has so much more work to do, but his health is definitely more of a senior dog,” tells Niki. Now, the second family, need to meet Rowdy. Ava is a 10-year-old girl with vitiligo who, along with her mother Julie, still needs to meet Rowdy. Rowdy’s health is declining, and we need to make this happen as soon as possible!