TRUMANN, AR (KAIT) - A Region 8 family needs help raising money to get a young boy a service dog.
The Mason family of Trumann is fundraising to get their son a $22,000 service dog. They only have to raise $14,000 thanks to the "4 Paws for Ability" organization.
They've raised $8,000, but still have a ways to go.
Cooper Mason is 4 years old. He loves Ninja Turtles and video games, but Cooper is a little different.
"He doesn't have any impulse control," Cooper's mother, Jaclyn Mason said. "His brain is wired differently than ours is."
Cooper has Asperger's syndrome, a high functioning form of autism.
Asperger's can cause him to have meltdowns at any time.
It's difficult for Cooper to do things like other kids, like going to the movies or eating at Chuck E. Cheese.
"He will go in his bedroom and he will kick, scream," said Chad Mason, Cooper's dad. "He will hit on the door and there is no reconciling with him."
A service dog will help Cooper when he can't control his outbursts.
"If Cooper starts having a meltdown or is starting to get upset, the dog will nudge him, or lick him, or lay on him, to try and reign him back in," Jaclyn said.
The dog will also track him in the case Cooper ever wanders off.
"It's terrifying to think that my kid, if you're at the playground and he's on the monkey bars and you turn your head for two seconds to check on your other kid and he's gone," Jaclyn said.
Cooper's parents said this will be life changing for their family.
"It's going to help us in our day to day activities," Chad said. "Grocery shopping, keeping him calm, reducing meltdowns. It's a big deal."
More important to this family is teaching others about autism.
"It's not just Cooper, there are kids everywhere like him," Jaclyn said.
Cooper's mom said when they are in public, they often feel judged.
"Don't just assume we don't discipline our children, and we don't care," Jaclyn said. "Because we care, we absolutely care. He's just having a moment."
But at the end of the day, their priority is getting this dog to help Cooper.
"Looking back on it all now, Cooper is a good kid," Chad said. "He's smart, he's intelligent, he's handsome, and I wouldn't change anything about Cooper."
The Masons are holding a walk/run fundraiser April 18th at Craighead Forest Park.
Both trails will be open and Cooper will judge the cutest dog contest.
Jaclyn is also working to plan a benefit concert.
To help this family you can also purchase t-shirts. The last day to order is March 16th.
For more information on how you can help this family reach their fundraising goal, contact Jaclyn Mason at 501-358-9154 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/coopersjourney14.