Donate to Support Denise Butkowski

My name is Denise and I am a resident of western North Carolina. I live with my 2-year-old rescue hound mix, Violet. The two of us live in a small two bedroom home in Waynesville just outside the town limits at the base of the great Smokey Mountains. I have been on disability since 2011 when a tethered spinal cord release surgery failed. My life has been a series of physical challenges, which I have met and frequently conquered in order to have an active, good quality of life. A gradual, continual weakness has had a negative effect on my independence that will be greatly improved with a service dog through PAALS.

I was born with spina mylomeginicele in 1955 in a small farming community in Minnesota. I was six weeks old when I underwent surgery to repair the spinal cord defects and closure of my spinal column. Enduring many visits to the orthopedist and neurologist throughout my childhood, teen and adult years I have developed a strong tenacity for an independent, active life.

After graduation from college for a career in physical therapy, I backpacked through Europe for three months with friends, have enjoyed camping through-out the United States and schooner sailing. After moving to California in 1985, I was introduced to a life changing and rewarding opportunity as a puppy raiser for Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafel, California. I raised five puppies for them during a ten-year period to become potential guide dogs. Three of which were career changed. I eventually kept two, Javier (a lab / golden cross) and Valor (a yellow lab) as pets. Being involved as a puppy raiser for a service organization enriched my life and changed my life forever.

Unfortunately since 2009 my health has experienced a slow decline. I am no longer able to pursue my physical therapy career and recently became a survivor of breast cancer. I am now faced with severe osteoporosis, progressive weakness, gait disturbance, poor balance due to a syringomyelia. Surgery is not an option as the risks outweigh the possible complications. Unfortunately, my neuroglial team has told me there is no possible cure at this time. This has been extremely difficult and challenging for me. Even with a cane, I fall easily without warning. I long to remain active and independent and am willing to pursue possible solutions so that I do not end up in a wheelchair. My physicians, therapist and I all feel that a service dog would be the answer to helping me be as safe and independent while maintaining my balance both at home and in the community.

I thank you in advance for you donations and generosity. I will continue to keep everyone updated along with my progress as I patiently wait for PAALS to find me the perfect service dog and life companion for me

To make a donation to support Denise, please complete the form below.

You may also donate by mailing a check to PAALS, 221 N. Grampian Hills Rd., Columbia, SC 29223. Please note it may take up to three weeks to receive a postal letter acknowledging your donation and providing your receipt for tax purposes. Online donations are acknowledged and sent a receipt immediately via email.