Fundraiser aims to help cover costs of new service dog for Chili girl

June 09, 2017 11:24 PM

"When we have a day off from school, Hannah's the one waiting at the door for the bus. I don't know how we tell her she's not getting on the bus."

Things are changing for Devyn Pereira. The Gates-Chili fourth grader who has Angelman Syndrome -- an ailment that is like a severe form of autism and epilepsy -- has been fighting the school district to allow her to attend school with her service dog with no handler for years.

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But come September, Periera will be a student in a new school district with a new service dog. Her dog Hannah is retiring.

"We have this 116-pound sheep dog who would be spending most off the day sleeping, but she's up, following this really active 10-year-old girl around," says Heather Periera, mother. "She wants to do a good job, but she won't be able to keep doing that forever."

But getting a new dog is not cheap.

"Most dogs are between $12,000 and $20,000 and that's on the more affordable side," says Heather Pereira.

The fundraiser Friday night at B-Side in Fairport will help defray the cost. At the same time, after fighting the Gates-Chili school district to let Devyn come to school alone with Hannah, the Pereira are moving to Hilton.

For the first time in Devyn's academic career, she won't need a handler. Jenn Horozko has been Devyn's aide and for the first time in five years won't go to school with her everyday.

"I'm so excited that the day has finally come... I'm so excited," Horozko says. "To be in a district and to be with people who accept Devyn and support her is going to be so great."

"Devyn had to go through this and we did," Heather Pereira says. "But now we get to look forward to,something different. Now, we don't have to live it each day. But the fight is still there and we're still working for the same ideal, the same standard."


Lynette Adams

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