Riverton girl with rare regressive neurological condition receives gift of a lifetime

RIVERTON, Utah – A girl with a rare neurological regressive disorder received the surprise and companion of a lifetime Friday.

“It’s hard... it’s hard to watch your child, knowing that they’re 14 and they can’t do what other 14-year-olds can do,” said Natalie Smith, a mother and teacher at The Kauri Sue Hamilton School.

“She used to be able to walk, she used to be able to run,” Smith added.

Her daughter, Kemry, has a condition you’ve probably never heard of.

“Kemry has what’s called Rett Syndrome,” she said, “It’s a neurological regressive disorder.”

As an infant, Kemry had delayed development when it came to potty training, walking and talking. When she was 5-years-old she was officially diagnosed with Rett Syndrome. By the time she was 11, grand mal seizures had set in, and within a month she lost all mobility.

“She was walking and then, she just wasn’t anymore,” Smith said, adding “But inside she knows. She remembers being able to run. She remembers being able to walk."

Now Kemry is 14-years-old. She’s on a feeding tube uses a wheel chair and has lost the ability to speak – now only able to communicate with a high pitched yell.

“It regressively takes away all of her skills,” Smith said.

Kemry’s condition will continue to worsen for the rest of her life. With proper treatment she could make it into her 20s or 30s.

“It’s difficult, but she’s also my hero," Smith said. "She is the strongest person I've ever met."

But something changed Kemry’s life Friday: a purebred English cream golden retriever named Blue.

The 10-week-old, 17-pound ball of fur and love was gifted from local breeders Tammy and Kent Hansen.

The Hansen's begin training their puppies when they are just 3-weeks-old. They socialize them and introduce them to new surroundings so the dogs turn into well-rounded pets.

Tammy Hansen said her husband has a disability, so giving back to a child with a disability was something they wanted to do.

”Dogs have made such an impact in his life that we wanted to be able to do this for somebody else,” Hansen said.

So the Hansen’s reached out to Rita, the principal at The Kauri Sue Hamilton School.

Rita gave the Hansen’s the names of six families who have children at the institution. But the Hansen’s wanted to make sure this special pup was going to the right home.

”We didn’t want to give him to just anybody, they needed to be able to take care of him along with their family members,” Hansen said.

After spending some time with each family individually, they said their choice was easy.

“Her seizures had calmed down, her high-pitched screech—because that’s the way she communicates—had settled down and she was actually laughing,” Hansen said.

“We knew then that this was the family for Mr.Blue,” she added.

Once a family was selected, the Hansen’s took to the power of social media, requesting donations from people across the country to receive everything the Smith’s would need to care for their new puppy.

But the real gift, is the impact that this puppy has on Kemry.

While FOX 13 was interviewing her mother, Kemry sat next to her. Kemry became nervous among all of the people and lights and began to yell as her anxiety set in.

Smith looked at her daughter and said “Kem, calm down, you’re OK... where’s Blue? Where is he? Is that him? Look there he is,” immediately Kemry was quiet and began to smile.

“She deserves to have that companion and that special bond of someone that loves her back,” Smith said.