Students raise funds for classmate's service dog
Jesse Wedge, 8, has Goldenhar syndome and has been diagnosed with autism
There are many children who want a dog, but in Fredericton there's an entire elementary school that wants one.
École des Batisseurs is campaigning in the classroom and online for their classmate who wants, and needs, a new best friend.
Jesse Wedge, a Grade 2 student, was born with Goldenhar syndrome, a rare congenital defect that leaves many of the person’s structures, such as their eyes, ears and mandible, underdeveloped. It can also make communication very difficult for them.
"He's partially paralyzed on one side," said Craig Wedge, Jesse's father.
"So it affects his ear, his vision, his speech and everything on one side of his body."
When Jesse was three years old he was also diagnosed with autism.
"We're pretty sure, from what we've researched, that a dog would give him things he needs," Wedge said.
"Things like a best friend."
Service dogs are often used as companions from children with special needs, but they're not cheap. A dog for Jesse costs $30,000.
When his classmates heard of the costs they made a YouTube video for Jesse and his need for a protective pet. Later this week they're hosting a special fundraiser.
"This Friday we're having a special day for Jesse, so we can raise money," said Rebecca Hamel, a student at the school.
"Don't forget if you wanna put on a costume or pyjamas you have to bring $1."
Alex Butler also explained why he wants to help Jesse get his dog.
"We want to get him a dog so that he will have somebody to help him as a companion, as a friend, and somebody that will help him find his way around," he said.
There's also an online campaign on the schools website aiming to raise the funds for Jesse.
The career of a service dog usually lasts between eight to 10 years. So if Jesse does get his dog, he could have a new best friend all the way through to graduation.
For Jesse, his thoughts towards the campaign are simple. He gives a thumb’s up and says, "Merci."