Violinist with MS to get canine companion

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April Childers, who suffers from chronic and debilitating health problems, including multiple sclerosis, will present a benefit violin concert at 3 p.m. Sunday at Jefferson United Methodist Church.


Childers teaches violin at J&K Music Workshop in Washington and in Bridgeport, Ohio. She is a first violinist in the Washington Symphony Orchestra and she and her husband are raising three children in Wheeling, W.Va.


She is the daughter of Judith Hamlin and the late Wade Hamlin of Wheeling, and the granddaughter of Erna Jane Ross and the late Ray Ross of Khedive.


Recently, Childers was diagnosed with a genetic disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Both diseases have left her with mobility needs.


Three weeks ago, she received a call to say she has been matched with a dog, a black lab named Dale. The dog is trained to assist her with walking and when she is in a wheechair, Dale can wear a harness for walking, help pay clerks when she is in the wheelchair, pick up and retrieve items, turn lights off and on, open doors and get the laundry out of the dryer and bring the basket to her.


Childers will have to do a three-week training beginning June 8 in Cochranville. The cost of training a dog is $27,000. Childers will be responsible for $1,000 for Dale and for fees and living expenses for the three-week training. Childers will need to make six follow-up training visits the first year.


Donations will be accepted at the concert to help defray the costs.


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