Friday, June 23, 2017

A true hero making a difference

Ashley and Wade Marr's dog Skye
Photo Credit Kim Perry

A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.~ Christopher Reeve

Ashley Perry turned thirteen years old this May. For such a young girl, she has given back with her whole heart, more than most people accomplish in a lifetime. She has a huge heart for people and animals.

Ashley has had 20 surgeries and every three weeks has to go into the hospital for the day to receive IVIG infusions that have side affects that resemble chemo. She has a very rare disease called Turners Syndrome that only affects 1/2000 young women.

Ashley and Wade Marrs
Photo credit Kim Perry

Overcoming obstacles like this and giving back as much as she does has made Ashley a true hero in my eyes. She is someone to admire that I believe is a wonderful role model. I am apparently not the only one that has recognized the greatness in this young lady. Wade Marrs, an Iditarod musher, I also admire, has also seen and admires her courage. Wade lives in a cabin with no running water or electricity. His life is loving and caring for his dogs. He works very hard to accomplish his goal. He has said that Ashley inspires him in his chosen fight. Wade inspires Ashley in her fight that she has no choice in.

The two have formed a bond. Ashley met Wade through Providence Children's Hospital, who contacted Ashley. A  sled ride was donated for Opening Ceremonies. It was donated to the hospital from a Pediatrician they lovingly refer to as Dr. Greg. Ashley rode with Wade in Iditarod Ceremonial Start in 2013. Once that was over his "commitment" was done. However, according to Kim Perry, Ashley's mom, "Wade truly has a heart of gold." He started asking the Perry family to his kennel to mush and then also invited Ashley to the Musher's banquet and the friendship grew. Ashley told me, "Wade is amazing, like a brother" to her and her two sisters and brother.

Wade is now racing to promote Turner's syndrome awareness. He has invited other girls from Alaska out to his kennel for rides and to socialize with each other so they know they are not alone.
Ashley and Wade
photo credit Kim Perry

This is one of Ashley's projects is to help others with Turner's syndrome know that they are not alone. They need to be able to support each other. She also wants the kids in the hospital to be able to forget they are sick for awhile. She works hard to get visitors to come to the hospital to bring joy. She has had Wade (of course) visit with fellow Iditarod Musher Aily Zirkle, country stars Toby Keith, Carrie Underwood and more. Ashley is always on the hunt for more volunteers. She has contacted her local mayor and is installing blessing boxes in her town. She is now reading to dogs in shelters.

Not too long ago, I wrote about getting a program started locally to do this. Reading to dogs in shelters allows children to spend time with the dogs in a loving, innocent non judging manner. This helps a very scared dog or anti-social dog become more adoptable and less likely to be returned. For children, especially those struggling with reading, one of the biggest challenges of learning to read is the embarrassment and fear of making mistakes. One of the most accepting, non-judgmental creatures in the world are dogs. Young students who read out loud to dogs improved their reading skills by 12 percent.

Life got busy, and I hadn't quite done it yet. Ashley's determination and spirit inspired me to get moving faster. I decided a girl with that much determination was the role model I wanted for this program. The program is to be called the "Ashley Perry Shelter Reading Program." I feel Ashley will be a beautiful inspiration for those struggling to achieve greatness. This program will take place at Muskegon Humane Society located in Muskegon, MI.

I hope Ashley inspires you, as she has so many. If you live locally, and would like to be a volunteer for the reading program, or get your child involved, please contact me via facebook or For Ashley I would also like to share this information to get the word out. Please feel free to contact me if any of these apply to you. I will get the information to the Perry family. She would love more cheer brought to her hospital in Anchorage, Alaska. Ashley wants others to know just because you have Turners Syndrome it doesn't mean that it  defines who you are. It's just a part of you.  The more sponsors for her dear friend Wade, the better. Ashley has told me he has done so much to bring awareness to Turners syndrome and joy to her family, she would like to help return the favor.
Ashley in her first sled dog race
Photo credit Kim Perry

This would be great advertising for Dog related business to be involved with the Iditarod. If you don't live locally, we both would love if you would be interested in getting a sister shelter program going in your area. I would love to get the information and assist you with that. One by one we can ALL collectively make a pawsitive difference.

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