NorthPark Community Church is coming together to raise funds to supply the McLean family’s 11-year-old son Wyatt with a service dog specialized for kids with autism.
“He is just a beautiful young boy and he could be very blessed by this dog,” said Pastor Bob Hudson. “We really believe this could be something that could help him for the rest of his life.”
Wyatt is in the middle of the autistic spectrum, said his mother, Maureen McLean. “He is loving. He goes on laughing tangents, and sometimes he goes on screaming tangents.”
“He does have meltdowns sometimes, and that is one thing the dog will help with,” said Wyatt’s father, Bill McLean.
The McLeans found a briard from Ry-Con Service Dogs, a nonprofit in North Carolina that specializes in training dogs for children and adults with neurological disorders, such as autism and PTSD, according to its website. The McLeans were able to visit in August.
The head trainer started the organization because his son also has autism, Bill McLean said. “The dog will be a companion for him.”
The briard the McLeans fell in love with is a 14-week-old named Gia, Maureen McLean said. “It is being trained. They had an instant connection.”
Members of NorthPark Community Church have started a GoFundMe page and held garage sales to raise money for Wyatt’s service dog.
When members of the church heard Bill speaking about the service dog for his autistic son, one of the members, Jim Foote, came up with the idea to help the family out, said John Nelson, deacon with the church’s men’s ministry. “They didn’t ask for help.”
“We didn’t even know it was happening. I started crying. We are so thankful,” Maureen McLean said.
A garage sale is scheduled 7-10 a.m. Oct. 6 in the church’s upper parking lot located on Kelly Johnson Parkway.
“It brings everyone together to support one common cause,” Nelson said. “It’s incredibly meaningful. It’s not just having faith. It’s putting our faith into action.”
All the proceeds from more than 10 families’ garage sale items will go directly to Wyatt’s service dog.
“It is a humbling experience to help others come to your aid,” Bill McLean said.
The McLeans have attended NorthPark Community Church for more than four years and their three children, William, Teri-Sue and Wyatt, were born and raised in Santa Clarita.
“Wyatt loves his sister. She can do no wrong in his eyes,” Maureen McLean said. “She is a cheerleader and Wyatt cheers, too. We are finding out if the dog can be on the stage with him while he performs.”
The dog will be able to help their son in multiple ways, and the family is thankful for their brothers and sisters in Christ for raising money for Wyatt’s service dog, they said.
“A lot of people ask why not use insurance — it wouldn’t cover the service dog,” Maureen McLean said.