Many children ask for dogs for Christmas, but few parents plead for a dog on their child’s behalf. But Nate Feola’s parents did.
At only 9 years old, Nate Feola has already been through hardships many of us are lucky to never experience. He was born prematurely, weighing less than two pounds, and spent the first five months of his life living in a hospital. When he could finally go home, it was to parents who abused him so badly, they lost custody of him. He will live his entire life with chronic lung disease, which requires him to carry around a 20 lb. oxygen tank in a backpack everywhere he goes.
But things have gotten better for Nate. He’s now living in a happy home with parents who love him, and who recently reached out to their community to ask for help in giving Nate a gift for Christmas that they couldn’t give him alone: his independence. Nate’s mother, Lisa Feola, told KOAA,
“We want him to be as independent as he can be and have that freedom to run in the park.”
Independence for Nate would be the ability to run and play without the burden of his oxygen tank. His family wants him to be able to experience playtime the way most children his age can. They believe that a service dog can help him by assisting him in carrying his tank and maintaining his balance while playing.
Of course, service dogs don’t come cheap. These dogs are trained from a very young age, very well socialized, and in high demand. Nate’s parents knew they’d need help to get a service dog for their son, and set up a YouCaring page to ask their community for help.
Their local news caught wind of their campaign and helped spread the word. The Feolas tearfully explained how much Nate has already been through, and how much a service dog could help with the challenges he faces daily.
People were moved by Nate’s story, and donations began to pour in. The goal was $14,000, which is a tall order for any campaign, but they did it! The campaign was set up in September, and the family found out just before Christmas that they had surpassed their goal, and Nate would be getting his service dog.
The Feolas were extremely moved by the outpouring of support for Nate. They shared their gratitude on Nate’s YouCaring page:
“Wow we will never forget the Christmas of 2017. The generosity of our community; the community that extends all around the US with the help of social media. Words can‘t express how blessed and loved we feel. To think just before Christmas we received $6,000. May God Bless all the hands that have made Nate’s wish come true. He will now have a forever [companion], best friend, HERO.”
The pup has to be trained for about a year to perform his specific duties, but his soon-to-be new family has already given him the perfect name: Hero.
Nate has experienced firsthand how ugly people can be, but now he knows that there are even more people who are compassionate and kind, and that there is a lot of good in the world.