Blount Co. family starts tradition of service dog fundraiser

BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Hearing your child may need a service dog is heartbreaking. As if you don't already have enough on your plate, now you have to worry about raising thousands of dollars.

The Holland family said they understand that just as much as anyone. Therapists told Kimberly and Alfred their son, James, has autism and that he might need a service dog. They didn't have money laying around to buy one. With help from the community, they made it happen, and they said they're hoping to do the same for a child with autism.

"The cost can cost you anywhere from $15,000-17,500," Alfred said. Their family did what was best for them, though, and bought a puppy to train as a service dog through B&B K9/Paws and Badges.

The English Golden Retriever they bought, Ghost, is just a pup, but she can already recognize when James needs her.

"She can detect when he's going to have a meltdown," Alfred said.

To raise the money they needed for a service dog, the Hollands held a fundraiser.

"We held a ride at Harley-Davidson last September and raised funds for Ghost," Kimberly explained.

They called it "Peapod's Paw Ride." It helped them raise about $900 for Ghost. With so much success, they thought, "Why not try again? This time for another child with autism."

"If we can help one child, that's great. If we can help 20 kids, that's wonderful," Alfred said.

That way, parents can focus on their child, not the money.

The next Peapod Paw Ride will be at Smokey Mountain Harley-Davidson on April 15 from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. The cost to ride is $15, with a passenger it costs $20. There will also be raffle tickets and shirts for sale.

If you would like to donate to Peapod's Paw Ride, you can write a check to "Peapod's Paw Ride" and send it to P.O. Box 195, Alcoa, TN 37701.