December 22, 2016 | Stories

A Hero for Kelani

A Hero for Kelani

"When she runs off, it is terrifying since she doesn’t respond to her name." — Karla Urata, mother

This is a joyous time of year, especially for children, and the Community Foundation for San Benito County is especially pleased to award matching funds from the Martin Rejkovich Children’s Fund to Chris and Karla Urata’s campaign, “A Hero for Kelani”, a fund established for their daughter to raise money for a very special service dog. Stories like this only confirm that there really is a Santa Claus!

Kelani, is a spunky girl with a beautiful smile and sparkling eyes who likes to sing songs while running and playing, a child who appears to be perfectly healthy on the outside, but was diagnosed with Autism in February of this year. Kelani can become overwhelmed in her environment, and since she is unable to communicate her fears, she just covers her ears with her hands, an action that often develops into a full meltdown.

Nearly four years old, Kelani spends 23 hours a week in therapy and school learning social behaviors and communication. While there has been some progress, many more hours will be needed before she can master basic skills.  Kelani is not afraid of anything, and if something attracts her attention, she often darts into a dangerous situation. Her mother Karla said, “When she runs off, it is terrifying since she doesn’t respond to her name.”

After considerable research, a service dog would be the best non-pharmaceutical option to help Kelani with her issues. Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers (SDWR) is one of the few agencies that will consider supplying a dog for a child as young as Kelani, but the expense for a trained dog is astronomical. A service dog can make a life changing impact in a person’s life, and SDWR provides clients with the means to set up a personal campaign to offset the cost of these invaluable animals.

“A Hero for Kelani” is the personal campaign started by Chris and Karla to raise $25,000 in tax deductible donations to SDWR. Once they reach their goal, an already prepared service dog will receive custom training specifically for Kelani’s needs. To date, their campaign has raised $10,554 (not including the $500 anonymous donation that came in while writing this story).

Funds from the Martin Rajkovitch Children’s Fund will match every donation to “A Hero for Kelani” (maximum $7,500) until the goal is met. Read more information about Kelani and the work of SDWR and then make your donation today.

The Martin Rajkovich Children's Fund was established to enhance the quality of life for chronically ill children in San Benito County. For more information, visit our website at or contact Curt Mead, Director of Operations & Grants at 831.630.1924.