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MCES Principal gets soaked for charity

The Harrodsburg Herald of Harrodsburg, Kentucky

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Students Raise Money To Buy Service Dog


It looked like a scene out of "Lord of the Flies Mercer" — or maybe a Nickolodeon gameshow from the 1990s — at Mercer County Elementary School (MCES) on Friday.

The students, all chanting as one, had gathered to watch the school's principal, Lee Ann Devine, get dunked in a tank of water.

While it was all for a good cause — the school was raising money to purchase a service dog for a child with sensory processing disorder — the children were bringing the thunder on Friday.

Some of them were so anxious they overshot their target, the softballs flying off into the parking lot behind the dunking tank. And the only time they stopped chanting was when Devine went into the water, when they cheered.

All together, the school raised $735 to buy a service dog for Bryson Branam, whose brother, Braydon, attends MCES.

Devine said Bryson will also attend MCES when he gets old enough. Bryson has been diagnosed with sensory processing disorder, or SPD, a neurological disorder which causes difficulties in processing information from the five senses — sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste, as well as the senses of movement and position sense.

While SPD is often linked with autism, they are different disorders. Research from the SPD Foundation found that over three-quarters of children diagnosed with autism have symptoms of SPD, most children diagnosed with SPD are not autistic.

Service dogs help keep overstimulated children suffering from SPD calm. They aide children navigate their environment and, perhaps most importantly, help prevent children from running away, or help adults find those who have run away.

The Branams would like to get Bryson a dog from 4 Paws for Ability Enrich, a nonprofit organization that trains service dogs to help children with disabilities, but a properly trained dog can cost over $15,000.

Bryson's mother, Amy Branam, who works in the emergency room at UK Medical Center in Lexington, said the family's church had donated $10,000 towards the price. Other organizations including MCES had helped raise more money, but there was still around $3,000 to go, she said.

At MCES, the most money was raised by students in Lynzie Karsner's and Julie Roney's classes. They lined up and took their best shot at dunking their principal.

After about an hour, everybody had taken their best shot. Bryson's father, Patrick Branam, a firefighter with the Lexington Fire Department who was running the dunking tank, made sure Devine got dunked even if the pitches missed the mark. When Devine climbed out of the tank, she asked, "Did you all have a good time?" "YEAH!"

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Original Publication Date: October 22, 2015

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