Josh Banes is a young man from Louisiana with muscular dystrophy. At just 10 years old, a special dream came true for him right outside of the Bossier City, LA Police Department.
Josh is fascinated by canine law enforcement. He loves canine officers and their dogs and read books about their adventures. Josh longed to meet the officers who worked with canines and of course the real heros, the dogs. And now, his dream came true through a "Pay It Forward Networking campaign."
In a ceremony at the police department and with his family in attendance, Josh was officially sworn into the police department by the Bossier City Police Chief. Josh received an official hat, and was given official gear. After he was sworn in, a real canine law enforcement officer and his dog trotted out to meet him.
To make Josh’s story even brighter, he received a tour inside a canine police vehicle and instructions on how things worked in the vehicle. Josh was then driven to the Bossier City Fire Department to meet another canine officer. The agency's canine unit consists of four dogs.
K-9 SPIKE is a 4-year old Dutch Shepherd who has training in drug detection, criminal apprehension, tracking, and protection.
K-9 ARCO is a 4-year old Belgian Malinois, who is certified in Narcotics and Criminal Patrol apprehension.
There is one American Bloodhound assigned to the unit. The large, long ears serve to prevent wind from scattering nearby skin cells while the dog's nose is on the ground; the folds of wrinkled flesh under the lips and neck serve to catch stray scent particles.
Josh’s Story: A little boy who deserves the best
Josh has muscular dystrophy and has spent most of his days in a wheelchair. When his mother heard about "Pay It Forward Networking," she connected with the association to make Josh’s dreams come true. Pay It Forward Networking is a local organization that uses social media to make wishes come true for children with special needs.
According to Kassi Robinson, founder of Pay It Forward Networking, "We use our own connections that we already have on social media to help these kids who face so much on a daily basis. We want to get them away from the thoughts of the hospitals, testing, visits and to just have them feel like rock stars." Robinson went on to emphasize that the goal of Pay It Forward Networking is for the kids and for their parents, to give them a bright spot and some happy moments.
Tina Banes, Josh’s mother was teary eyed when she saw how happy Josh was with his special surprise. "It's special to see him smile and be happy and enjoy it. It's something money can't buy," Tina Banes said.
Pay it Forward Networking has only been in existence for four years. They've helped 170 children in a short amount of time. On October 14th, they hosted a 5K and a family-fun event at the Louisiana Boardwalk, which was also a reunion for wish granters and wish receivers.
What is Pay It Forward Networking?
Pay it Forward Networking is a non-profit organization, whose mission is to grant wishes and dreams through the power of networking. It works with children who have special needs, like Josh.
With the power of social media and email marketing, the association grants wishes for sick and disabled children. Right now, they have an average of 338 friends on Facebook, and each of these friends connects with their friends. Pay It Forward Networking brings connections together to grant children their dreams.
To make a wish for a child, you have to complete an application and tell the association a child’s story. You must include their diagnosis and their dreams. When the application is approved, requests for donations and telling the story are sent out via social media, newsletters, and email campaigns. The network relies on the generosity of people who want to help others in the community.
Even if you cannot afford to contribute, you can share a connection, and someone will be willing to grant a wish and help a child experience a dream. Nothing could make you feel better than granting a wish for a disabled child.
Upcoming events for Pay It Forward Network includes a PIFN Walk, Run and Roll on the Louisiana Boardwalk in Bossier City, LA.
Pay It Forward Networking also sponsors prayer vigils like the one they held for Emilie Gibson. Emile has DIPG and is under hospice care. The prayer vigil was to show her family they were loved, to give them support and to ask God to comfort them. (DIPG is a brain tumor in the brain stem part of the brain called the pons. The pons controls bodily functions like heartbeats, swallowing, eye movement, breathing, eyesight, and balance. DIPG exclusively affects children.)
More about muscular dystrophy
Muscular dystrophy is a disease that causes the loss of muscle mass and muscle weakness. Irregular genes restrict with the production of proteins that form healthy and functioning muscles.
There are many diverse types of muscular dystrophy, but the most common symptoms begin in childhood and mostly in boys. It is a fatal genetic disorder. According to research and studies approximately 1 in 5,000 boys will experience this disease. Almost two third of new DMD cases are due to inherited mutations, but the remaining one third experience DMD resulting from spontaneous mutations.
The main sign of muscular dystrophy is progressive muscle weakness. Indications of muscular dystrophy begins at various ages and in different muscle groups. Certain types of muscular dystrophy affect the body differently.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy is the most common form of this disease. It may happen because of different mutations in the dystrophin gene. Mutations result in DMD patients being unable to produce dystrophin or a protein needed for maintaining healthy muscle function. Over time, the absence of dystrophin results in the deterioration of muscles and this leads to the loss of muscle movement. Impairment of cardiac function and respiratory difficulties ultimately cause death by the time patients are in their late twenties.
There is no approved cure or therapy for the treatment of DMD, but research and study are making some strides in prolonging the life span of DMD sufferers.
Young boys with muscular dystrophy will experience the following difficulties:
- Trouble walking. They will need to use a wheelchair. Like Josh, who is now 11, he is dependent on a wheelchair.
- Shortening of muscles or tendons. These contractures further limit mobility.
- Breathing issues. The muscles associated with breathing are progressively affected. Eventually, those with muscular dystrophy will need to use a breathing ventilator.
- Curved spine or scoliosis. Weakened muscles cannot cause the spine to curve.
- Heart issues are a significant complication of muscular dystrophy.
- Difficulty swallowing. The muscles that allow swallowing become weak. Aspiration pneumonia and nutritional issues often develop. If swallowing becomes impaired, feeding tubes are an option to keep someone with muscular dystrophy alive.
It’s awesome when people care enough to grant wishes to children. You can sign up on the Pay It Forward Networking Facebook page and and learn more about the dreams of the children. Anyone with the heart and time is encouraged to join the group. Their mission is "Helping Sick and Disabled Children's Dream Come True Through the Power of Networking."
Photo source: ArkLaTex Homepage