Adalynne "Addie" Gill, 2, of Northfield, can be a handful.
At 19 months old, the toddler was found to have a rare brain malformation called polymicrogyria that has caused her to miss developmental milestones and, more visibly, has given her severe behavioral issues. Addie is impulsive, and her frustration in failing to communicate her thoughts often manifests itself as shouting or violence.
While Addie can be destructive to her environment, more concerning for her mother, Samantha, is the danger she poses to herself: Addie has no understanding of cause and effect, has poor safety awareness and compulsively runs away.
Keeping Addie safe from herself is a constant struggle, and in two years only one thing has seemed to help: her grandfather's dog, Cooper.
Visiting Addie's grandparents can be dangerous because Addie has developed a habit of sprinting up and down their staircase at full speed, oblivious to the danger. On a recent visit, Gill was struggling to keep Addie under control, when Cooper was released from his crate.
"She stopped trying to climb the stairs," Gill said. "It's like Cooper knew something was wrong with her, and he kept trying to herd her."
Gill has since contacted an organization called 4 Paws for Ability about getting a service dog for Addie. At $22,000, plus the cost of travel and training, this is an expensive proposition, so Gill is turning to the community for help.
On May 19, there will be a family fundraiser for Addie held at Kiddie Korner Day Care in Egg Harbor Township from 1 to 4 p.m., featuring a Chinese auction, prizes, games, an open gym and vendors. On June 2, there will be a beef and beer benefit and auction at DiOrio's cafe in Somers Point from 4 to
Community members have pitched in to help Addie's Forever Friend Fund. Family friend Pam Garofolo is selling homemade dog treats to benefit Addie's cause, and Elite Hair Salon in Linwood is selling bracelets and giving the proceeds to the fund.
Should Gill a be able to purchase a dog for her daughter, it's her hope the dog would help curb Addie's dangerous behaviors, track her should she run away and bring some calm to the family's frenzied lifestyle.
"My god, I would be able to breathe," Gill said.
Addie, who has felt the effects of PMG since she was born, has undergone intensive early intervention therapy since May 2012. Initially, she was wordless, couldn't concentrate and often threw tantrums. A year later, she's verbal, can play constructively and is learning to control her frustration.
Because PMG is relatively rare, it's unknown how Addie will develop as she ages. She could reach the point where her condition becomes unnoticeable, or she could remain dependent for life.
Her therapist, Jackie Smith, said she can't speculate as to Addie's future, but is hopeful Addie will continue to improve.
"It's really hard to say, especially at this age," the Mays Landing resident said. "I feel she will continue to make progress as long as she continues to receive intensive help."
While Addie's behavior can make her difficult to handle, there's no malice: She will smile and laugh as she's pulling someone's hair, not understanding her actions are wrong.
What's more, Addie is generous in her affection with friends and family, and loves playing with her 4-year-old sister, Audrey, who does not have PMG.
Caring for Addie requires constant vigilance, which takes its toll on Gill and Audrey. A service dog may be a far cry from a miracle drug, but with such a hectic lifestyle, a little bit of help goes a long way.
"The lady, Karen (Shirk), who started (4 Paws for Ability), said to me on the phone, 'So next time you take her to the mall ...'" Gill said. "I thought to myself, 'Take her to the mall? I don't go to the mall with Addie,' and I started to laugh. She said, 'No, but in your future, you can do that.'"
For information on Addie's case or to donate, visit 4pawsforability.org/make-a-dream-come-true/#AdalynneGill or facebook.com/addiesforeverfriend?fref=ts.
Contact Braden Campbell:
If you go
What: Benefits for Addie Gill
When and where:
• Family Fundraiser: 1 to 4 p.m. May 19, Kiddie Korner, 3156 Fire Road, Egg Harbor Township,
• Beef and beer: 4 to 7 p.m. June 2, DiOrio's Cafe, 10 MacArthur Blvd., Somers Point.
How much: Family Fundraiser, $15 adults, $7 children. Beef and beer, $25.