Kingsport family raising money for service dog to help son with autism


KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) The Connelly family of Kingsport says they are in need of a service dog to help their son Oliver with autism.

Oliver Connelly is about to turn 5 years old in October, he is in special education at Palmer Early Learning Center.

Oliver’s journey with autism started when he was as young as 18 months old as he was showing signs of hyperlexia, meaning a child can read at levels far beyond those expected for their age.

By the age of 2 and a half he was diagnosed with the condition along with autism spectrum disorder and a sensory processing disorder.

Oliver goes to eight different therapies a week to help with the problems he is facing.

His family says a service dog would greatly help him with his daily life, social development and safety.

“One of the benefits of the service dog is that you can actually tether the child to the dog so the child can’t wonder or run away, the dog would know to sit down and stop him from going away. The dog will also be trained in tracking so if he was to get out the dog can track him like a police dog would because he will be trained on his scent,” said Oliver’s mom Kylie Connelly.

The family needs to raise a total of $17,000 to be able to purchase Oliver’s service dog. After only 6 weeks of fundraising, they are already at the halfway mark. They hope the community will keep rallying behind Oliver so they can meet their goal.

“It floored me. Seeing all the help we have been receiving and how many people are willing to help,” said Oliver’s dad Jeff Connelly.

“It’s a blessing that our community has come together like it has to help and hopefully will  continue to do so so he can have this opportunity that he deserves,” added Kylie.  

They run a Facebook page with weekly raffles where they also sell things like masks and decals to raise money.

“He is the light of our life and we have tried our best in his short 5 years of life to do everything we can to make sure his journey is as easy for him as possible,” said Kylie.

O’Charley’s in Kingsport is hosting a fundraiser for the family all day on Thursday, September 17 where 10% of sales will go to the fund if you mention Oliver’s name.

The restaurant is located at 1920 N. Eastman Rd.

In addition, the School of Morton in Chuckey, Tennessee is hosting a benefit show for Oliver on September 27th.

Follow Oliver’s journey and find upcoming ways to donate on their Facebook blog.

The direct link to the fundraiser through 4 Paws For Ability on Facebook is here.

You can also call 4 Paws for Ability to make a credit or debit donation over the phone at 937-374-0385, let them know it is for Oliver Connelly.

Checks can be sent by mail to:

4 Paws for Ability “In honor of Oliver Connelly” 253 Dayton Ave., Xenia, Ohio 45385.

All donations made are tax deductible.

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