An 8-year-old Kennewick boy will head to Ohio with his mom and other family members in May to meet and train with the new service dog he's receiving thanks to a community fundraising effort.
Tristen Chambers-Berry has autism, and his family has said the specially trained pooch will help ease his interactions with others, calm and redirect him during meltdowns, keep him from darting away in public and track him if he does wander off.
Tristen can't wait to meet his new companion, said his mom, Amala Berry. "He has a countdown. He'll tell people, 'I'm getting a service dog!' " she said.
The Berry family set out last year to raise the $13,000 needed for the dog through the Ohio-based 4 Paws for Ability.
Community members chipped in through fundraisers, including a spaghetti feed at Uncle Sam's Saloon in Kennewick. Then, Teri and J.R. Carr, owners of the Tri-Cities Fever, kicked in more than $7,000 to bring the Berry's to their goal. Amala Berry's husband, Ed Berry, is a wide receiver for the team.
The family is raising money for their travel and stay in Ohio during the roughly two weeks of training. To help, go to www.4paws4tristen.org.