04/17/2024
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By Erin Smith

“If you can dream it, you can achieve it.” This quote describe’s Anita Autry’s determination to see that her son, Anton Jr., was able to obtain the service dog he needed to help him cope with his ASD. She entered the “Dream It. Do It.” contest at First Bank and was recently notified she had won $15,000 in the contest.

Mike Davis, Bank Branch Manager for First Bank in Elizabethtown, said the bank is holding a contest called “Dream it. Do It.” To learn more about he contest itself, click here.

“We put boxes in each branch and people filled out a slip with their dream and placed it in the box,” said Davis. He said the dream can be anything from a new roof, a vacation, or in Autry’s case, to purchase a service dog. Davis said one winner is chosen each quarter. The total prize is up to $25,000.

Davis said the first quarter passed and then the bank got a notification Autry had won.  He said Autry explained her son is severely autistic and has social issues and going out is difficult as noises upset him. Davis said Autry explained the doctor told her that, ideally, her son should receive a service dog to help him in getting out of the house.

Her entry appears below:

“We are a small family of 3 which contains a special child, our son, Anton Jr. The county we currently reside in is Bladen County. Bladen County does not offer any assistance for individuals with ASD (Autism Special Disorder). Our son was diagnosed with ASD in September 2013, not to mention other disorders he has.

Anton Jr. is 10 years old and is very intelligent with technology devices. He communicates with others by typing, but when talking to us, he whispers quietly. Public outings are not good; every day is a challenge. Most of the time, my husband and I take turns with appointments and grocery shopping due to our son’s severe anxiety of people, noises, places, and sensitivities (light/sound). He cannot sleep without either one of us being beside him.

My dream is to use the funds for the purchase of the service dog. They will provide our child the support and emotional security he truly needs. An Autism Service Dog will provide substantial support for everyday living support. The service dog will offer comfort from the anxiety and coping with life issues that affects him significantly.

The gift of receiving these funds for our son will mean so much to our son (Anton Autry, Jr.) and us. Words cannot fully express our gratitude in being able to obtain a godly act of kindness. Thank you for providing the “possibility” of making this dream a reality.”

Davis said when Autry’s entry was drawn, the bank investigated what a service dog would cost and determined the expenses to be $15,000. He said the branch was notified and they noticed Autry she was a finalist and arranged to meet with her to learn more about her son’s disability and how First Bank could help.  He said Autry brought a note from her son’s doctor explaining the need for a service a dog.

Davis said Autry was touched and had no idea she had actually won until she was presented with the check.

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