A 12-year-old boy from Winchester, Mass., is on a mission to save the sight of his neighbor’s dog.
“He warmed right up to me,” McPadden told The Valley Breeze of his new buddy.
Perhaps the pair connected so quickly because of what they share. Brody is losing his vision due to a diseased cornea. The condition is common to his breed and likely to spread to his other eye, resulting in complete blindness.
As for young Jack McPadden, he has been blind for most of his life. At only 9 months old, he was diagnosed with cancer and lost his eyesight due to the illness. Though his cancer is currently in remission, his vision never returned — but McPadden doesn’t let his blindness get in the way of achieving his goals.
McPadden himself describes his blindness as “an ability, not a disability.” With kindness and a maturity well beyond his years, the 7th grader knows he does not need to see in order to make a difference in others’ lives. “I can help people through the mind and creativity,” McPadden explains. “I don’t wish I could see — I was meant to be this way.”
But McPadden hopes for a different future for Brody, whom the boy says wouldn’t have the option to use a cane to get around the way he does. McPadden hopes to help Brody have “a rich and wonderful life — like I have,” he says.
Veterinarians hope to save Brody’s eyes with medication, but the next resort will be an expensive surgery.
McPadden is determined to raise the more than $800 needed to treat Brody’s condition; in fact, the boy has already collected more than $200 from his classmates and $100 from his family. But the buck doesn’t stop there, McPadden says. He has chosen to help Brody as his Bar Mitzvah service project. While McFadden practices his Hebrew in Braille over the coming months, he will also be baking and selling dog biscuits to raise money for Brody’s care.
Brody is currently under the care of Cumberland animal rescue organization Just a Touch, which specializes in rehabilitating and finding forever families for dogs who otherwise might have been deemed unadoptable at other shelters.
“We take dogs at the bottom of the list,” says Just a Touch leader Debbie Fahrenholtz, “those little, broken critters with special needs who have no chance. All they need is a little help.”
And Brody certainly fit the bill, she says. Before coming to Just a Touch, Brody’s first family was considering having the pup euthanized because of his cornea condition. The organization stepped in just in time, giving Brody a second chance at a full life.
For Fahrenholtz, Jack McPadden is something of a hero. “He does more than any sighted kid his age,” the rescue director says. “In his mind, he doesn’t have any limitations. If there’s something he wants to do, he figures out a way to do it.”
She and her organization are grateful that McPadden has chosen to be Brody’s champion.
“Animals can give so much to humans,” says McPadden, who lives by a philosophy we all should be reminded up this holiday season, “and we can give back. They can give you love, and you get the feeling that you’re providing a home from them and nurturing them.”