Eight-year-old Carter Blanchard of Arkansas suffers from a rare skin disorder called vitiligo. The disorder occurs when the body’s cells that produce melanin die or just stop functioning. This causes large and irregular white patches to appear on the skin. Vitiligo can happen to all races but is far more noticeable in individuals that have a darker skin tone.
Over the weekend, Carter and a 14-year-old dog from Oregon, who also suffers from vitiligo, met for the very first time. The meeting happened because an anonymous donor saw a news report about Carter and the black lab, named Rowdy, and their online friendship and they wanted to help get the duo together, reports FOX 61.
Niki Umbenhower, Rowdy’s owner, states that around the age of 11, Rowdy began to get a little white. At first, she thought nothing of it and attributed it to Rowdy getting older. In Arkansas, thousands of miles away, Carter began to get white patches on his skin.
Stephanie Adcock, Carter’s mother says it was heartbreaking picking Carter up from kindergarten and first-grade and hear the sadness in his voice as he told her he hated his skin. One day while online, Adcock came across Rowdy’s Facebook and Instagram pages. After discovering Rowdy suffered from vitiligo, Adcock shared the social media pages with Carter. Over the next year, Carter and Rowdy formed a special “digital friendship.” Being friends with Rowdy helped Carter become more confident about his skin condition, reports the Daily Mail.
Adcock told local media that Rowdy changed the way Carter looked at his own skin. She said every day his skin became less of a problem for him to accept.
Because of an anonymous donation, Adcock and Carter boarded a plan in Arkansas and flew to Oregon to meet Rowdy and Umbenhower in person. Carter and Rowdy became instant friends.
Carter got right on the floor with Rowdy and played with him. Umbenhower says Rowdy was full of energy and bouncing happily around Carter because he could sense the excitement in the air.
Umbenhower says that the moment Carter and his mom walked through the door she got goosebumps and began tearing up.
Adock said being with Rowdy in person was “life changing” for Carter. She said being with Rowdy was a gift that changed his childhood for the better. She added that it was the greatest gift anyone could ever give her son, reports FOX News.
Umbenhower says that she hopes to raise funds to help other children with the skin disease get the opportunity to meet Rowdy. Carter is now back home in Arkansas, but he and Rowdy are continuing their “digital friendship.”
By Tammy Marie Rose
Photo Courtesy GoFundMe