Hunter Calvert, with working dog, Bow, at Canine Partners for Life in Pennsylvania, to see about getting a seizure alert dog for the 11-year-old. Hunter suffers from seizures and needs such a dog to warn him when a seizure is about to happen.
If you shop at Jasper's Piggly Wiggly, you probably know store manager, Wade Calvert. Two events scheduled soon for Calhoun, where Calvert lives, are set to benefit Calvert's son Hunter, who suffers from a brain condition.
A benefit meal, auction and cake walk (with music and a dragster car) happens Saturday evening, April 21, at the Old Oostanaula School Community Club. That is at 1595 Oostanaula Bend Road, southwest, in Calhoun. And a benefit motorcycle run is scheduled Saturday, May 12, from Tabernacle of Praise Church at 301 Chatsworth Highway 225, northeast, in Calhoun. Rider registration rolls from 8 to 9:30 a.m. with the road rumble rolling off at 10 o'clock.
Calvert's son, Hunter, suffers from encephalomalacia. The condition exists where damaged brain tissue, lost in a stroke or stroke-like episode, prevents normal electrical firing between healthy brain cells nearby. Tissue damage in Hunter's frontal and temporal lobes blocks electrical connectivity between normal brain cells in the same regions. Seizures have resulted.
"They believe that from birth to somewhere around eight years old, that he'd either had a stroke or a blood clot in his brain, causing this," Wade Calvert said.
No outward sign showed until 11-year-old Hunter was in middle school. The day after running a cross country race, Hunter experienced a seizure before dawn and one at evening. The following day, while under study at Egleston Children's Hospital in Atlanta, Hunter suffered a grand mal seizure lasting 17 minutes.
Now Hunter is on medication. As doctors continue to adjust it, the medicine helps to prevent seizures and helps Hunter sleep––sleep being the mode where the brain rests and recovers.
Even with medicine, Hunter's seizures are not entirely avoidable. That is why the Calvert family wants a seizure alert dog for their son. Gaining such a dog for Hunter is the goal of the two scheduled benefit events at Calhoun.
From the scent of chemical changes on the skin of a person about to have a seizure, a seizure alert dog can warn its master of the coming danger. "So the person will be able to get into a safe place and lie down," Wade Calvert explained. When the dog alerts, the master knows to "sit down, lie down, quit walking, so you don't go into paralysis and fall down," Calvert said.
Such an alert dog is both a safeguard and a liberator to a kid battling seizures, because of the freedom this kind of companion animal allows. With the dog, the child can move beyond constant parental monitoring, from having mom or dad ever present to ask, "Are you OK?"
The Calvert family is now working with Canine Assistance for Life to gain an alert dog for Hunter, Wade said. The Cochranville, Pennsylvania company breeds and trains alert dogs of the kind Hunter needs. It will cost the Calverts roughly $15,000 for an alert dog and the training Hunter must have to work in cooperation with the animal.
"It's not a pet. It's a working dog just like a seeing-eye dog," Wade Calvert said.
Even with the money for a dog secured, Hunter must stand in line on a waiting list to receive an alert dog, his dad said. "We're looking at eight months to a year right now," Wade Calvert said.
Hunter Calvert has stopped cross country racing at present, but there is hope he may return to running once his medication is regulated, his father said.
"The damage that is done is there," Wade said. It should never grow larger, he said, but will not diminish either. Some brain connections are altered, he said. "It affects his short-term memory."
You may wonder what Hunter Calvert is like, "He's an outgoing, caring, loving child––and a ladies' man at eleven," his dad smiled. "He loves pets: dogs, birds, cats and goats." His son filled a five-gallon bucket with picked flowers to distribute among his school teachers, Wade said. "He has decided that he either wants to be a teacher or a police officer," his father said, "because he wants to help the public."
For more information about the Hunter Calvert Benefit and the Hogs For Hounds Benefit Ride, phone 706-264-8393, or e-mail to the address below:
Midpoint in the Hogs For Hounds motorcycle run will be Sacketts Western Wear beside Highway 515 in Jasper, just south of State Highway 108, where bikers will pause for a water break.
Donations toward an alert dog for Hunter may be mailed to the address below:
ATTN: Wade Calvert
55 Burnt Mountain Road
Jasper, GA 30143