Nate Feola has lived 9 years, and the odds, it seems have never been in his favor.
Born four months early, weighing only 1 pound, 8 ounces, he spent his first five and a half months in the NICU, fighting for his life. When he was finally released to go home, his biological parents beat baby Nate so severely that they almost killed him. Nate survived. But the trauma to his tiny body left him permanently disabled.
Nate went into foster care. Thankfully, a new mom and dad fell in love with him and adopted him, even though they knew he'd need constant care and probably never be able to leave home. They've given Nate a happy childhood in Colorado Springs, against all the odds.
But Nate is getting older, and it's hard for him to rely on his mom, who sometimes carries around the heavy oxygen tank he needs to breathe. Nate's parents are hoping to add a new member to their family: A service dog that can help Nate carry his oxygen. Nate has already named the dog "Chunk" (even though the trainer hasn't even found the puppy yet) and his mom, Lisa, says her other two adopted kids, both of whom have special needs, are already jealous that Nate is getting a dog.
The only problem is, the Feolas can't afford the dog. They need $14,000, and so far their YouCaring account has only brought in a little under $4,000.
Are you crying yet? Yeah, I know you are. Let me tell you more. Lisa and her husband have four biological kids between the ages of 17 and 25. None of them have disabilities. But about a decade ago, they decided to become foster parents, and when little Nate, a baby with multiple broken bones, needed a place to go, they took him. Lisa is a nurse, so she knew she could help Nate in a way other foster parents couldn't.
Nate was just nine months old. After that, the Feolas were often asked to take in foster kids with special needs. And they ended up adopting two more kids. Nate's siblings are an 11-year-old girl, who uses a wheelchair and functions on the level of a small baby, and a four-year-old boy, who is likely the highest functioning of the three kids. All the kids need extra love and care, including taking meals through a tube in their tummies.
Nate still bears a lot of the scars of abuse, his YouCaring page notes:
Due to prematurity and physical abuse Nate now has chronic lung disease, poor vision, right side weakness, poor balance, sensory issues, severe ADHD, and reactive attachment disorder. Nate requires constant medical supervision and is developmentally disabled and he will never be able to live on his own. Although Nate's very small compared to his peers, he is a very active and social 9 year old who loves to meet and talk to people. Due to Nate's chronic lung disease he is required to wear oxygen all the time.
Nate or his mom carry his oxygen in a backpack that weighs 10-15 pounds. It's a lot for Nate, who only weighs about 50 pounds himself.
“My shoulders and back get sore so I can’t imagine how he feels,” Lisa says.
Despite all the challenges he's faced, Nate is a happy little boy who likes playing baseball and practicing Taekwondo. With the help of Chunk, Nate should be able to do all of those things a little easier.
If you want to help Nate and Chunk with their little holiday miracle, you can give here.