Bella the ball: Party to help EP fourth grader buy new service dog

  • Written by Bob Rakow


  There’s a party in Evergreen Park on Sunday FRONT-COLOR-1-col-BELLAAn Evergreen Park family is hoping to raise money so their son can work with Bella, a service dog. Submitted photo.and if it’s a success, Liam McNamara will soon have his service dog.

  McNamara, 9, a 4th grader at Southwest School and Evergreen Park resident, has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, along with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, bipolar personality and anxiety.
  He had a service dog, Bub, but the golden retriever died two years ago, causing his family to raise the funds needed to purchase another one.
  The new dog, Bella, a one-year-old German Shepard, will cost the family about $20,000, and insurance does not cover the expense.
  Bella is being provided through Dog Wish, a California-based organization that trains service dogs to assist people with disabilities.
  “The dog is being trained right now,” said Liam’s mother, Dawn.
  The fundraising event, Liam’s Paws for a Cause, will be held from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Circle Park, 97th Street and Homan Avenue.
  The event will cost $50 for families or $15 for an individual and will include games, a disc jockey, band, raffles, silent auction, bean bag tournament, three bouncy houses and food.
  “It’s a fun day in the park,” McNamara said.
  The McNamara’s raised a $500 down payment for the dog in June after holding a garage sale at the First United Methodist Church in Evergreen Park.
  The dog’s $20,000 price day may seem high, but it covers the cost of extensive training as well transportation from California, McNamara said.
  A service dog is critical to Liam’s well-being, his mother said.
  Bella would not allow Liam to leave the house without permission or nudge the boy to remind him to look both ways before crossing the street.
  The dog also is trained to relieve Liam’s anxiety by cuddling with him. Liam often gets anxious when he meets new people. He cannot articulate his feelings or express his emotions. As a result, he can become violent, scream or hit people, McNamara said.
  The dog also is trained to track in case Liam ever disappears. Additionally, she’s trained to respond to cues. For example, she will stand in between Liam and a new person, prevent the boy from entering a car with a stranger or leave the house alone, McNamara said.
  For information or to make a donation, visit