October 5, 2021
ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–The seventh incarnation of Robbinsville Township Mayor Dave Fried’s groundbreaking “Pay it Forward” initiative, and the first since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, was a huge success Tuesday at The Stone Terrace By John Henry’s.
As part of his annual State of Robbinsville Township address, Mayor Fried and his team raised more than $50,000 to help Robbinsville resident Kelly Breden, 17, purchase a service dog to help with for her rare disease, PACS-1.
Kelly is one of three individuals in New Jersey, and among just 160 people around the world, who suffer from PACS 1 – also known as Schuurs-Hoeijmakers syndrome.
Past SOTT recipients include the Shepherd Family, Quilts for Comfort, Deborah Dauer, the C.A.R.E. Program, Mercer Street Friends Food Bank and the We Love Our R’ville Neighbors campaign. Since 2015, those efforts have raised over $400,000.
Classified as non-verbal autistic, Kelly is having increasing difficulty with movement and is frequently subject to falling – often without warning. Following a long and painstaking process, Kelly has been approved for a dog provided by Little Angels Service Dogs based in Bartlett, New Hampshire. She will receive the dog when it has completed its specialized training for Kelly’s special needs.
“This is a very special family and an awesome kid who deserves everything good this world has to offer,” Mayor Fried said in front of a crowd of over 230. “I always get excited as we gear up for our annual Pay it Forward event, but the opportunity to come together to help her acquire this service dog through a wonderful organization such as Little Angels is why I do what I do.”
The Breden Family For Kelly’s Independence has raised over $7,000 toward the cost of the service dog, a grand total that will be close to $55,000 upon the completion of specialized training, according to Josh Drew of Little Angels, who also spoke at the event.
“The goal is for the dog to help Kelly’s brace for balance while walking and standing up, alert me to falling episodes, and give her deep pressure therapy to help relieve anxiety and autistic stims,” Elizabeth Breden, Kelly’s mother, said. “The dog will also be trained to work next to Kelly’s wheelchair. The more she can do for herself, the better her quality of life. You’ve heard the saying, “happy wife, happy life.” We say, “happy Kelly, happy life.”
Fundraising for this effort is still open. To donate via PayPal, CLICK HERE.
Little Angels Service Dogs is a charitable nonprofit 501c3 corporation which reaches across the United States partnering service dogs with individuals with special needs. Founded in 2006, Little Angels is dedicated to providing the highest quality dogs for needs such as diabetes detection, mobility, psychiatric disorders, seizure, hearing impairment and autism.
“We’re so excited to be part of this journey with Kelly, her family and Robbinsville,” Director of Recipient Relations Darlene Drew said.
As for Township business, Mayor Fried touted an unprecedented ninth straight year of either flat or reduced taxes, the distribution of over 20,000 face coverings at the start of the pandemic, a 24 percent increase in Robbinsville property values from 2017-2021, a net debt decrease of 21 percent over the past five years, and a historic shared services partnership with neighboring Hightstown to build a new police station and municipal court.
“People of all backgrounds want to move into our community,” the mayor said. “As of the 2020 Census, in addition to those rising property values, Robbinsville is also one of the most culturally diverse in all of Mercer County. For almost every family, a home is one of the largest investments they will ever make so we are proud to help protect that investment every day.”
Mayor Fried also presented a “Key to the City” – the Township’s highest honor – to former Councilman Dan Schuberth, along with a special COVID-19 recognition award to Robbinsville Police Lieutenant and Office of Emergency Management Coordinator, Mike Polaski.
“Mike’s coolness under pressure and firm guidance helped us weave our way through the pandemic and we could not be more thankful for his contributions,” Mayor Fried stated.
As for the generosity of the Robbinsville community, Mayor Fried said: “These past seven years have been among the most humbling experiences of my life. Having you all here again means the world to all of us in Robbinsville, and only reinforces the deep pride and appreciation I feel to be your mayor. Remember to be kind to one another out there.”