MOUNT CARMEL — Brandel Rose wasn’t quite ready to get in the middle of a swarm of his Mount Carmel Elementary School classmates admiring a Kyle Busch racecar Wednesday morning.
But with the help of his new service dog Cami, purchased through donations made by Brandel’s classmates, big crowds and other obstacles aren’t quite so daunting as they used to be.
The 8-year-old Mount Carmel student has Down syndrome and autism, and he has a great fear of large crowds.
Every year a group of Mount Carmel students known as the A-Team have the task of figuring out how to honor various individuals in the school system throughout the year.
Principal Kelli Campbell said that during Superintendent Appreciation Month last year, the A-Team decided to raise money in honor of Director Steve Starnes for the 4 Paws For Ability organization.
The team raised a little more than $800 through contributions and a penny drive. Part of that went to 4 Paws For Ability, and part was used to pay for Brandel’s new goldendoodle Cami.
“They wanted to do something for kids in our school, kids in our community, kids in our state and then kids across the world,” Campbell said.
As a way of showing their appreciation, Brandel’s parents, Kevin and Autumn Rose, arranged to have a Kyle Busch racecar, the 2015 NASCAR championship trophy and a large red M&M with arms and legs brought to the school Wednesday.
“The school helped raise money for him for a service dog, and so me and my wife wanted to do something special for the school and for the kids just to say thank you,” Kevin said. “So we brought Kyle Busch’s racecar here since it’s race week in Bristol. We’re super excited to have the trophy, car and hauler here for fun for the kids.”
Kevin doesn’t have any special connections. He simply called Joe Gibbs Racing, told them what what the school had done for his son and JGR agreed to send the car.
It’s a real race car, with a real engine. That same car will be at Food City Race Night Thursday in downtown Bristol and then will be on display at various Walmarts in the area Friday and Saturday.
Thanks to his classmates, Brandel received Cami this past May.
“It’s been a miraculous change in his life,” Kevin said. “With his autism, he’s afraid of large crowds, noises certain types of flooring. She helps him walk through crowds, to get across certain types of floors that he’s afraid of and just been a miraculous change in his life.”
“She’s also trained in search and rescue. He likes to run from us, so she is specially trained just to track him.”
Over the past two weeks, Cami has been integrating into the school. Using a method called tethering, Brandel is attached to Cami and she helps him through situations that usually give him problems.