Izaac Reese loves playing with blocks, ropes and bubbles. He loves recess and his favorite food is marshmallow cereal.
On the surface, he seems like a typical 10-year-old boy, but Izaac’s story has moved Miami University students to assist his family in raising $17,000 to pair him with a 4 Paws for Ability service dog.
On March 5, the Miami Men’s basketball team played Kent State at Millett Hall for their senior night rivalry, but it was not a typical Miami University basketball game. Miami athletics partnered with Miami’s fraternities and sororities and with Paws for a Cause, a student organization that works with 4 Paws for Ability, to raise the money for Izaac.
Attaining a service dog is expensive due to the specialized breeding and training that each dog receives.
“We were able to come together and support a common cause,” said Jake McCorkle, a sophomore finance major and vice president of service and philanthropy for the Interfraternity Council. “This is a very unique experience, and I think it is really special.”
When Izaac was eight weeks old, he needed a foster home. The Reese family welcomed him into theirs with open arms. Aimee and Mark Reese have fostered children for 13 years and have welcomed more than 60 kids into their home. They formally adopted Izaac when he was 3 years old.
Izaac was born with numerous medical conditions including encephalitis, meningitis, seizures and prenatal drug exposure, according to Izaac’s profile on the 4 Paws for Ability website. Now, at the age of 10, Izaac still suffers from the effects of fetal drug exposure.
“He is mobile and able to get up and run around, but he is fast,” Aimee said. “So we have to keep him in a seat, just for his own safety.”
A service dog with tethering and tracking abilities would give Izaac more independence due to his hyperactivity and impulsive tendencies.
Paws for a Cause also organized several other events throughout the week of the game to raise money for the Reeses, including tabling, T-shirt sales, a spaghetti dinner and a cup sale Uptown.
“The whole dynamic of somebody else that we don’t even know stepping up, it just means the world to us,” Mark said.
The Reese family looks forward to the peace of mind a service dog will provide for their family.
“The dog will go with him to school and church and on the bus, so it will provide us with a sense of security that he is not going to get away,” Aimee said.
Despite the RedHawks’ 75-66 loss to Kent, the organizers viewed the event as a huge success.
“Being a part of this organization has given me a sense of purpose,” Preston Saddler, a sophomore economics major and Paws for a Cause member, said. “I love interacting with these dogs and seeing how they are able to impact people’s lives.”