Young Arkansas boy gets a service dog from local folks
Six-year-old Joey Hampton from Stamps, Arkansas was all smiles when he received his new St. Bernard service dog Shiloh on June 27 from Berkeley Springs resident Judy Talbert. Bikers Helping Sick Children, Inc. of Hagerstown arranged the donation. The organization’s president Brenda Rippeon lives in Berkeley Springs.
Hampton has spinal muscular atrophy Type 2, which is a form of muscular dystrophy, said his mom Bridgett Hampton. Joey is going into second grade and will be seven years old next month.
A memorable day was arranged for Hampton, his mom, his best friend Gus Buehler and Buehler’s mom Kim Buehler, who accompanied them on their trip east.
They rode from the Moose Lodge in Sheriff Vince Shambaugh’s police car with a sheriff’s deputy and deputy reserve escort to a special party at Twelve Oaks Estate with clowns, food, snow cones, face painting and music.
Crews from a Morgan County Emergency Medical Services ambulance and a Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Company fire engine were on hand to show Joey their vehicles. Earth Dog Café owner Susie Allen and the Food Lion donated food.
How it came about
Tammy Reyna, who served with Hampton’s mom in the Air Force, heard of the Bikers Helping Sick Children organization from a Harley’s shop in Louisiana.
Reyna contacted Rippeon about helping to get a service dog for her daughter Jolie, who had a brain tumor. The organization sent her $300 towards a service dog.
Talbert contacted Rippeon about wanting to donate a service dog that she had gotten for her husband, who passed away in January. Rippeon called Reyna, but the family already had a service dog paid for and on the way.
Reyna then told her friend about the organization. Bridgett Hampton called Rippeon with hopes that they could help her get a service dog for Joey.
Hampton said Shiloh would be a companion for her son. Since the dog was a large breed, he could pull him in his wheelchair and possibly open doors and turn on lights.
“It’s definitely God’s plan the way it all worked out. It’s wonderful. It’s a true blessing. There are not enough thank yous in the world,” she said of the donation.
The mission of Bikers Helping Sick Children, Inc. is to provide financial assistance for families of children battling terminal or debilitating illnesses and disabilities. The group sponsors area motorcycle-related events to raise money for families with medical bills and needs. They’ve helped children all across the country, Rippeon said.
Talbert was also going to donate an electric wheelchair for Joey, but it’s too big for him. The group is working to get him a child-sized one.
Bill Walker, Ali Ghan Shriners Hospitals for Children Inc. and Shriners Sayara Unit representative, said Bikers Helping Sick Children did great work and always jumped in quickly to help with whatever was needed.
“It’s never about us. It’s about the kids,” he said.
Bikers Helping Sick Children does a bike run every year to benefit the Shriners Hospitals for Children in memory of Rippeon’s granddaughter Kayla Widdows.
Judy Talbert was happy to help with the gift of her late husband’s service dog. Her husband William “Bill” D. Talbert was a Navy veteran and a former Montgomery County, Maryland police officer.
She and her husband’s police partner Paul Sterling dressed as clowns for Joey’s party.