News From Terre Haute, Indiana


November 13, 2012

Fundraiser to help provide service dog

Family aims to provide canine to keep autistic son safe

TERRE HAUTE — The family of a Terre Haute boy with autism hopes that a service dog will keep its son safe while allowing him to participate in daily activities like other children his age.

Seven-year-old Levi Walker is seeking a service dog from 4 Paws For Ability, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to place quality service dogs together with children with disabilities and veterans who have lost use of limbs or hearing.

The Walker family has committed to raising $13,000 to receive a 4 Paws dog trained especially for Levi, and its first fundraiser is coming up on Nov. 20. From 6 to 9 p.m. that evening, 50 percent of admissions to the Bouncing Barn at 2509 S. First St., will go to 4 Paws for Ability.

Admission is $5 for children ages 2 to 12.

Amy Walker now homeschools her son, who has autism, periventricular leukomalacia and a deletion on chromosome 15  — which can cause attention issues, impulsiveness, expressive language delays, low muscle tone and a higher chance of seizures.

Levi has no verbal communication, but is active in many ways. He likes to run, watch television, jump on his trampoline and “read” the phone book. But he also has “Houdini” skills when it comes to vanishing.

“He could bolt at any moment,” Amy said of Levi. “My stress level is high because I’m always wondering if he’s gonna bolt.”

Already, the family is on its third type of locks at home, because Levi has figured out how to open earlier locks. They now use combination locks that he hasn’t yet mastered. Levi has a history of getting out of the family home, even though all the doors and windows are locked and the yard is gated. And that has Amy and her husband, Chris, who works for the Vigo County School Corp., worried that the youngster will get into one of the many ponds or lakes near their property in rural Vigo County.

They are also worried that now that he is older, bigger and harder to handle in public, he can pull away from his family and dart into traffic or another dangerous situation.

“Our son is getting to the point where he wants to be more independent, and in seeking ways to support that and keep him safe, I had seen service dogs for other children, and I wondered if that would be an option for Levi,” Amy told the Tribune-Star.

Amy works from home for an agency called About Special Kids, connecting families with resources to help them and their special needs children. So to help her own family, she searched online for autism service dogs and found the 4Paws For Ability program online.

After learning about how the dogs are training and reading testimonials from others who have a 4 Paws service dog, Amy said she felt the program would work for Levi. But she was concerned about the cost.

A 4 Paws service dog costs $22,000 to raise and train. The recipient family is asked to contribute more than half of that cost.

“At first, the $13,000 fundraising requirement was really overwhelming to me, so I kind of backed away from it for a few days,” Amy said, who then ran into some emotionally and physically exhausting days with her son when his behavior included self-injury and meltdowns.

“It took a couple of really rough days with Levi, and then I thought that if he had a service dog it could go up and comfort him. So I picked the information back up and decided we have to do it for him.”

A special advantage of a 4 Paws service dog is that the animal will learn to track its companion. So, if Levi wanders off, the canine will be able to find him.

Levi already enjoys interacting with large dogs, and many autistic children partnered with trained canines display calmer behavior and progress in their speech and development, Amy said.

“We do what we can to keep him safe, but there’s always the chance someone will come and leave the door open, or he will figure out the locks,” she said.

“He is making progress all the time. There’s no way of knowing what his potential is. So having the service dog in public tethered to him, with me holding the other leash, will allow him to go out in public and be safe,” she said.

The 4Paws dogs are training to spot a child’s behavioral disruption and then take action to calm the child down, such as putting a paw on the child’s foot or lying down next to a child having a fit. The presence of the animal, who becomes a trusted companion, can calm a child. Amy explained that autistic children sometimes don’t respond well to the intentional calming or soothing touch of a parent or caregiver, instead becoming more agitated.

“If he’s acting up, the dog will know what to do,” Amy said. “Levi will bite his own hand. He is nonverbal, so he has no consistent way to communicate. When we try to block him from biting himself, it just causes him to get worse.”

As part of their commitment to the program, the Walkers will also be videotaping some of Levi’s behavior and submitting it to 4Paws, which is located in Xenia, Ohio. The trainers will re-enact Levi’s behavior as part of the canine training so the dog will know what to do.

The family also will have to go through intensive training with Levi and his autism service dog, and they will do annual updates in training.

Amy said her family has already created a Facebook page to keep the public updated on fundraisers and progress of  the 4 Paws project for Levi. The Facebook page is called 4 Paws for Levi.

Another upcoming fundraiser will be a chili supper that is in the planning stages. Amy said she hopes to have T-shirts printed to sell in support of Levi and 4 Paws.

Anyone wanting to help with a tax-deductible donation, can visit 4 Paws Donation Page at,  or go to or mail a check with Levi Walker’s name on the memo line to 4 Paws for Ability, In Honor of Levi Walker, 253 Dayton Ave, Xenia, OH 45385. Amy can also be contacted via email at


Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.


Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • council mtg 013.JPG Mayor: City will not file bankruptcy

    The Terre Haute City Council took well more than  an hour to ask questions and discuss the health of the city’s finances with top city officials in a special meeting Thursday night. A few councilmen expressed grave concern about the financial picture, while Mayor Duke Bennett said things were improving.

    July 10, 2014 2 Photos 1 Story

  • State official threatens prosecution of city leaders who talk about audit

    A state official has threatened to pursue the prosecution of city officials if they violate a confidentiality agreement signed last month.

    July 10, 2014

  • MET 071014 181 02EXPO.jpg ISU, 181st Intelligence Wing show off capabilities at expo

    Communication and getting unmanned eyes in the sky can be vital parts of responding to a natural or man-made disaster.

    July 10, 2014 3 Photos

  • Feds relent: Military to restore equipment program for fire departments

    An agreement has been reached to keep surplus military equipment rolling into rural fire department bays in Indiana and 47 other states.

    July 10, 2014

  • united way.jpg UW kicks off pilot campaign

    Dottie King remembers the day she saw a young man leaving St. Ann’s Dental Clinic after having 17 teeth pulled. He had not received sufficient dental care before that day so his need was dramatic. That was unlike King, who had visited the dentist regularly since childhood, but still found getting a tooth filled not on her list of fun things to do. “I thought to myself, ‘I never have thought about the blessing of dental care,’” King recalled, sharing that story on Thursday morning with other volunteers for the United Way of the Wabash Valley.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET 071014 181 HILL.jpg Indiana’s director of homeland security sees unmanned systems’ potential

    Integrating unmanned flight systems into use for domestic surveillance can provide first responders with key information in responding to fires, earthquakes and man-made disasters, said John Hill, director of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Stunt performer scheduled to be at Wigwam

    A celebrity stunt man named Jim “Crash” Moreau is scheduled to perform at Terre Haute’s Wigwam Skate and Event Center on Saturday.

    July 10, 2014

  • Rain barrels offered for sale

    The Vigo County Soil and Water Conservation District is taking orders for 55-gallon rain barrels.

    July 10, 2014

  • Ash.jpg Tips lead to meth lab bust

    Two people were arrested after police busted a clandestine methamphetamine lab Thursday in the 2200 block of Fourth Avenue in Terre Haute.

    July 10, 2014 2 Photos

  • MET070914 house exterior.jpg Historic Ohio Boulevard house inspired by 1948 Cary Grant movie

    Spurred in 1948 by a newly released movie staring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy, coupled with a growing post-World War II housing market, General Electric partnered with Hollywood’s RKO Studios to build “dream homes” throughout the country.

    July 9, 2014 4 Photos 1 Story

  • Detour ahead

    A panel of public and private officials is calling for $10 billion in projects to upgrade Indiana’s aging roads and bridges, but its members concede there’s no money to pay for it all.

    July 9, 2014

  • MET070814 barrels.jpg MARK BENNETT: Making road work a barrel of fun for drivers

    We’re lucky orange barrels can’t talk.

    July 9, 2014 2 Photos

  • City Council to take up city finances tonight

    The Terre Haute City Council will have a chance in a special meeting tonight to delve deeply into the city’s financial health. However, council members are being asked to avoid raising the most controversial subject of recent weeks: The city’s use of Redevelopment Commission tax increment finance (TIF) money.

    July 9, 2014

  • Bennett accepts $5,000 fine in ethics settlement

    Former Indiana Schools Superintendent Tony Bennett has agreed to pay $5,000 as part of a settlement with Indiana’s ethics watchdog in which he admits to using state resources for campaign work but is cleared of formal ethics violations in the grade-change scandal that cost him his job as Florida’s schools chief last year.

    July 9, 2014

  • Vermillion Jail trusties face new charges

    Two former inmate trusties at the Vermillion County Jail face new criminal charges after a recently discovered security breach at the jail.

    July 9, 2014

  • Lawrence police acquire armored military vehicle

    A central Indiana city has acquired an armored military vehicle for use in highly dangerous situations.

    July 9, 2014

  • Free carwash for law enforcement

    Mike’s Carwash locations in Central Indiana, including Terre Haute, will honor the sacrifice of IMPD Officer Perry Renn and thank all those who serve and protect our communities with a free carwash for police and emergency personnel today and Friday.

    July 9, 2014

  • MET070814 voice four.jpg Hitting a high note

    A 17-year-old from Casey, Ill., won “The Voice of the Valley” Tuesday night, singing and shaking his hips and legs to an Elvis Presley song, then wooing the grandstand audience at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds with a country tune.

    July 9, 2014 2 Photos

  • MET 070814 STORM STAUNTON.jpg Clay County residents clean up debris, get power back

    Several power outages still affected hundreds of Duke Energy customers on Tuesday, more than 24 hours after storms and strong winds swept through west-central Indiana, leaving a swath of damage in the Staunton, Brazil and Center Point areas.

    July 9, 2014 4 Photos

  • MET 052106 EVANBAYH ADDRESS.jpg Return to Indiana?

    Evan Bayh is keeping Indiana Democrats on hold.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Planning under way for 2014 Downtown Block Party

    Wabash Avenue will be full of activity Aug. 23 as the 2014 Downtown Terre Haute Block Party takes over five city blocks in a celebration of music, food and events.

    July 8, 2014

  • MET 070814 CATHOLIC WARE.jpg VIDEO UPDATE: Guys give food bank a lift

    A $14,000 donation Tuesday from Guys Who Give enables Catholic Charities to be at nearly 75 percent of its $2.5 million goal to purchase and operate a new, larger food bank near Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field.

    July 8, 2014 2 Photos

  • wilson,robert.jpg ‘Dangerous’ suspect in police custody

    A man sought by the Vermillion County Sheriff's Department has been nabbed by police in Indianapolis.

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • eBus brings financial empowerment to town

    A 40-foot long mobile classroom is scheduled to roll  into Terre Haute today, carrying what its sponsors call “financial empowerment.”

    July 8, 2014

  • MET 070714 CULVER PHOTO.jpg Maker of history

    A humble man with a heart for helping others is an apt description for Terre Haute resident Curtis B. Culver.
    Culver died July 2 at age 94, leaving behind a legacy of missionary work and social involvement.

    July 7, 2014 3 Photos

  • MET 070714 TRASH TRANSFER.jpg Petitioners push for recycling at fair

    A Vigo County environmental activist hopes to convince the Vigo County Fair Board to start recycling, especially during the county fair, and has started an online petition.

    July 7, 2014 5 Photos

  • MET 070714 SULLIVAN SQ2.jpg Veterans call on commissioners to protect war memorial

    Installing a camera on the second floor of the Sullivan County Courthouse may be one solution to curtailing what several veterans are calling a disgrace to a memorial that honors Americans who gave their lives in service to the country.

    July 7, 2014 4 Photos

  • Schools ethics case: Proposed deal to be reviewed

    The State Ethics Commission is set to review a proposed settlement Thursday in the ethics case against former Indiana Schools Superintendent Tony Bennett.

    July 7, 2014

  • Man airlifted to Indy after early morning crash

    A Clay City man sustained non-life-threatening injuries in a head-on collision early Monday morning on Indiana 46 at Riley Road southeast of Terre Haute.

    July 7, 2014

  • Man agrees to plea on youth sex charges

    A Terre Haute man received a suspended sentence in a plea agreement signed Monday as his jury trial was about to commence in Vigo Superior Court 1.

    July 7, 2014

Latest News Poll
AP Video
Police: Prostitute Linked to 2nd Death Chimp-attack Victim Lobbies Congress Obama Responds to Hecklers on Immigration More Immigrants Detained Along Rio Grande FIFA Rejects Suarez Appeal Against Biting Ban Israeli-Palestinian Tensions, Attacks Escalate Art of Haitian Machete Fighting Revived Soft Robot Fish Lead New Wave of Robotics Thousands Attend NYC Firefighter's Funeral World Cup Final Pits Argentina Against Germany LeBron James Says He's Returning to Cavaliers Raw: Israel, Gaza Exchange Rocket Fire Neighbors Mourn Killing of Texas Family Raw: Australia Hosts Annual Beer Can Regatta Downside of Low Mortgage Rates? Less Selling Texas Shooting Suspect Collapses in Court Raw: Rebel Leader Weds in Eastern Ukraine Kim Kardashian Hits Up Valentino Show in Paris Man Flees Police in World Cup Scalping Scheme Raw: Funeral in Gaza for Family of 8
NDN Video
Cleveland welcomes home LeBron Houston Killer Collapses in Court When Read Capital Murder Charges for Allegedly Killing Family of Six Worst Valet Ever Wrecks $500K Lamborghini Glee Star Becca Tobin's Boyfriend Matt Bendik Found Dead in Hotel Aerial fish restocking in Utah ScarJo Channels Marilyn Monroe Obama Responds to Hecklers on Immigration Tiny Hamsters Who Ate Burritos are Back for a Tiny Hedgehog's Party Watch Kelly Ripa Get Soaked! 'Referee' Hands Out Yellow Cards for Social Faux Pas in NYC 2014 Emmy Nominees: 8 Snub Shockers Emma Watson Is Va-Va-Voom in Valentino 7 Infamous Sports Blowouts Argentina tops Holland in World Cup semifinals News flush: Japanese toilet exhibition making a splash Emmy Nominations: What to Watch For 'Game of Thrones' Leads 66th Emmy Awards Nominations Photographic 'Proof' That LeBron Is Leaving Miami - @TheBuzzeronFOX Elephant Pool Party at The Oregon Zoo Must-See! Berry and Fallon Form Human Hamster Wheel

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010

Real Estate News