SAINT JAMES, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A 13-year-old partially blind boy from Long Island is raising money for a cause that is very personal to him.
Matt Redlein is blind in his right eye due to an inherited condition. His older brother, 24-year-old Brandon Redlein, is completely blind.
“When I had Brandon 24 years ago, they said it was a million and one chance it would happen again,” mother Theresa Redlein told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff. “So when I had Matthew and it happened again, it was a complete shock.”
The seventh-grader is not letting his disability become an obstacle, as he is raising money to pay for service dogs to help veterans with post-combat disabilities. He first started selling bracelets and baked goods at school to raise money, and now has donated thousands of dollars to the cause.
“Everyone has their own form of a struggle, and anyway you can make that better, you want to help,” Matt told CBS2.
Jeff Fernandez, a volunteer for the Guide Dog Foundation, said what Matt is doing is “phenomenal” because his organization doesn’t receive government funding.
“We want to get dogs to veterans and first responders that need it, providing companionship and get stress and hardships away from them,” he said.
Matt’s brother Brandon said service dogs help tremendously for those who need them.
“If the veteran has a seizure and the dog is responsible for getting the veteran help, getting him the phone to call for help,” he told WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall.
While a guide or service dog is completely free to the recipient, it costs $50,000 to raise, train and place each one. Just sponsoring a puppy costs $6,000.
The Guide Dog Foundation and America’s Vet Dogs train and raise 300 dogs each year on Long Island.
Matt created his own webpage for the fundraiser. If you would like to donate, please visit mattsfundraiser.vetdogs.org.