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Featured Member Interview: Erin Blocksidge

Earlier this year, we did a project with GiveBack to help promote their 100 Days of Giving campaign. We had several members blog about the campaign and start their own charitable giving foundations through GiveBack. But one member really dug in, got in involved and came really close to being the overall 100 Days campaign winner. In the end Erin, the blogger at The Mom Adventures, came in 3rd in the GiveBack campaign and was the winner for the One2One Network project! Coming in third didn’t win her any money from GiveBack but she received $1,000 for her GiveBack account for her participation in the O2O campaign.

Erin’s focus for the entire campaign and beyond has been raising money to get an Autism Service Dog for her son, Thor. She created a site called Paws 4 Thor and all money she raised went to 4 Paws for Ability, Inc., an organization that trains service dogs. Some really good things have come about because of her involvement with GiveBack. We’ll let her tell you more about it in her words…

When did you come up with the idea for Paws 4 Thor?

Back in January I was introduced to the world of Autism Service Dogs through a friend who happens to be going to get her son’s in October from the same place (4 Paws for Ability, Inc) that I’m getting Thor’s. After months of researching every possibly agency for service dogs, I kept coming back to 4 Paws and realized it was what my son needed to help balance his life – and help me keep him safe. The Paws 4 Thor website came quickly since I’m a blog designer by trade, and things have been rolling ever since. The online community has been such a huge supporter of the Paws 4 Thor “movement” – so many people I’ve never even met have donated money to our cause.

How has being involved with GiveBack helped you raise funds?

I participated in GiveBack.org’s 100 Days of Giving Contest – the grand prize was $50,000 to give to your charity (or charities) of choice. For a while it looked like I had a pretty good chance of winning which would have allowed me to get my son his much needed service dog, and sponsor several other children in need of one as well. In the last week of the contest I was pushed to 3rd, but something wonderful happened — Chris M, the winner of the $50k for charity, is donating a portion of his winnings to 4 Paws for Ability on behalf of Thor to help us reach his fundraising goal (we’re required to fundraise $13,000 – a portion of the actual costs of a highly trained service dog).

What is one thing you want people to know about your son?

Every moment of every day Thor fights against his natural tendencies to be afraid, anxious, or overwhelmed. You may walk by us in the grocery store and he’s on the floor having a meltdown screaming…chances are, the lights are too bright, there are too many people, or there was a loud noise that overwhelmed him. Before you judge him as bad, or me as a bad parent, take a moment to give us a kind look instead of a judging one. Our struggles are many and we are doing the best we can to navigate this world which is so overwhelmingly scary to him. Kindness can change lives…even if only for a moment.

What other charities do you like being able to support?

I’m a big supporter of charities that benefit special needs children (not just Autism) – being the parent of a special needs child has really opened my eyes to the struggles and triumphs of so many very special children all over the world.

And because we just love seeing how our members answer these questions and this is a featured member interview, I had Erin give answers to our “fun” list, too!

I’m known formy ability to make my opinions heard – I usually use that power for good, not evil. πŸ™‚

I’m working onmy next GiveBack project…helping other children in need of a service dog get the funds needed to make their dreams come true and change their lives.

10 years from nowI hope people are more educated on special needs individuals and are less judgmental…a little knowledge & kindness can go a long way and I think if we (society as a whole) can figure that one out, this will be a much better place to be.

I’m currently addicted toiced tea. (does that count as an addiction?)

It really annoys mewhen people make snap judgement about others they don’t know, I think it’s important to ask questions and educate yourself before you judge others. Also? It annoys me when people don’t mow their lawn.

I worry aboutmy son’s future – will he be independent? Will he he be okay when I’m not here to take care of him anymore? It is a constant worry for me, and all I can do is help him become the best person HE can be…and hope for the best.

I find joyin the small moments in life. I’ve learned to never take for granted the tiny things in life.

My secret ambitionis to become a published (successful) Author.

I can’t do withoutmy daily gym time – it’s my time to refocus my mind and take time for me.

I’m most creativein the late evenings; something about the peace of the night helps me focus my creativity and write/design my current project.

I admiremy sister; she is the strongest woman I know and has faced life’s challenges with grace and a sense of humor. She has always been, and will continue to be, my hero.

When I grow upwell I hope that never happens. In fact, if I ever get remarried I want to go to a theme park for my honeymoon. πŸ™‚

Coffee or tea? Iced tea. or a Hot Mocha Latte on a cold day.

PC or Mac? PC – several. It’s like a computer war zone in here…why does one person need so many?? (I don’t know….)

iPhone or Droid? Droid – though if someone wants to give me an iPhone I’m all for trying it πŸ™‚

Twitter or Facebook? Both – I’m a social media addict.

Pickles – sweet or dill? Neither – I despise pickles. Ick!

Now here’s the REALLY important part! How can we help? The money for Thor’s service dog has been raised and Erin says, “We now have approximately 9 months to raise the money needed for our long trip from Northern BC, Canada to Xenia, Ohio where we will attend 11 days of training at the 4 Paws for Ability facility.Β This is no small cost – flights, hotels, car rental, etc for Thor and 2 adult escorts (one other adult must come with us for times when I must concentrate on my training as a service dog handler.)” Please visit the “How To Donate” page on Paws 4 Thor for information on making a donation!

To stay up-to-date on what’s going on with Thor and the quest for a service dog, you can follow along on Facebook or Twitter!

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