DEMAREST, N.J. — Holy Angel’s junior Devin Toolen has heard the stories.
The Midland Park lacrosse player knows about 8-year-old Lindsay, whose therapy dog alerted her parents right before she had a seizure.
Toolen, 16, has seen how companion animals facilitate basic tasks for people with cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy — making their days a little easier, and that much brighter.
But Toolen doesn't want to hear the stories. She wants to be a part of them.
The 16-year-old athlete has raised upwards of $1,000 since her first 2008 bake sale for Mickey’s Kids Foundation and on April 6, she's back at it again.
Toolen's second annual Draw for the Dogs bake sale during AHA's 4 p.m. home game against Fair Lawn will help the foundation fund a $20,000 service dog from Canine Assistants.
"Anything I can do to help people in need, I want to do," said Toolen, who gets to soak in the fruits of her labor year after year at the foundation's annual gala.
"I have a love for dogs and it feels so awesome to see the money you're raising helps someone."
Toolen was inspired to get involved with Mickey's Kids in 2008, shortly after her teacher at Academy of Our Lady in Glen Rock, Michele Meli of Hasbrouck Heights, launched the foundation with her husband, Thomas Meli.
Then-8-year-old Toolen raised $200 at her first bake sale. That figure increased with every fundraiser she organized. With help from her teammates, it nearly doubled at last year's event.
The game plan is to do it again.
“It wasn’t just my project, it was a team project,” the athlete said. “Last year, even though we lost the game I think we really felt together as a team. We felt a good sense of unity amongst us.”
Thomas Meli, knows every cent of Toolen’s counts. Her efforts don’t go unnoticed.
“It’s been a pleasure watching her grow up,” said Meli of Toolen. “Not only does she raise money for us but she gets the word out.”
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.