WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — Like many 8-year-old boys, Ian Layton is in search of more independence.
“He is really craving a level of independence that he doesn’t have right now,” said Ian’s mom, Allison. “He has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy and is confined to a power wheelchair and limited in what he can do for himself.”
Allison and her husband Chris say their son requires assistance to some degree with almost everything. Between them and Ian’s twin brother Owen, they are there by his side at home while an assistant helps at school.
Last week, the second-grader took to paper sharing what was on his young heart in a letter to his parents. He wants a helper, a service dog, so he won’t have to ask others for help.
“At first, I was like he’s growing up. He’s maturing just a little bit, and he’s ready for the next step of responsibility and some independence,”Allison said. “He was like [a service dog] can pick things up, and they can open doors and push buttons, and I think he realized that could give him a level of independence that he doesn’t have right now.”
It would also provide him companionship that can sometimes innocently get lost when friends come to play.
“He has friends, but he sometimes does get left behind because he can’t physically hop a fence or jump on a trampoline,” she said. “I think if he has something beside him just to provide that companionship for those times he’s alone…I think that would make a huge difference for him. And when he wants to throw the ball, he’ll have someone to bring it back.”
Ian has already named his future service dog Walter. The name comes from one of Ian’s favorite movies, Elf with Will Ferrell.
The cost of a service dog can run anywhere between $17,000 to $50,000. The family wants to raise the money themselves and have started with the online crowdfunding site Give Butter: Where’s Walter.
“We know this is a big undertaking, and we really want it to be something that can give him that level of independence,” Allison said.
The family says if they raise more money than needed, they plan to pay it forward to another family in the same situation.