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Screen capture courtesy of A Service Dog for Max & Toby video

Dutch McDonald and Becky Mingo are Pittsburgh treasures who have been instrumental in making the neighborhood of Friendship what it is today. Becky served as the Executive Director of Friendship Development Associates for over a decade—a nonprofit charged with revitalizing the Friendship neighborhood. In that time, she played a crucial role in enabling the FDA to leverage more than $15 million in private homeowner investment and facilitating the success of the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh’s Housing Recovery Program. Under her leadership, the FDA paired with the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation to create the Penn Avenue Arts Initiative, bringing in millions more. Becky’s currently Adjunct Assistant Professor at the School of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University.

Dutch is a multiple award-winning architect and COO & VP of Operations at MAYA Design (he was previously the principal and vice president of Edge Studio and an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University). As an architect, he has transformed numerous warehouses and other buildings into highly creative living spaces—preserving these historic buildings for the benefit of our city and its architecture and his work has been celebrated in many national publications. Dutch has also served the Friendship community as a past president and board member of the Friendship Preservation Group. Additionally, he was also past president and board member of PCTV (Pittsburgh Community Television) and the director of Carnegie Mellon University’s “Our Town”—an inner city at-risk youth design program.

Dutch and Becky have contributed so much to City of Pittsburgh and its people and now they need your help for their family.

Two of Dutch and Becky’s beloved sons—Max and Toby—have developed MPSII (Hunter’s Syndrome), a degenerative disease that affects every cell in their young bodies including their cognitive processes. Most unfortunately, the severe form they have is expected to shorten their life span. Here’s how you can help Max and Toby.

There are service dogs who assist children with special needs:

“Max & Toby are happy and surrounded by family and supporters who work very hard to keep them as comfortable and engaged as possible. But, as time goes on, they are increasingly unable to do many of the activities and simple things that they used to do. They—and their family—could use some more help. And…..the boys love dogs. A service dog will help them be safe while taking walks, sleep better at night, support them when they need help sitting or wandering, and even keep an eye on seizures—not to mention provide a warm and loving presence.”

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Screen capture courtesy of A Service Dog for Max & Toby video

Because Pittsburghers are a generous people, the money has already been raised for 4 Paws for Ability to get a service dog for Max and Toby. But, it’s not just the dogs who need training. The families getting these very special dogs need to be trained in the care of these animals. The whole family will need to travel to Ohio for two weeks. Because of the boys’ condition, they’ll need to have staff to travel with Max and Toby and their family, as well as needing accommodations for all. They’ve started a new fundraising drive here.

There will still be many more costs associated with Max and Toby’s care. Any contribution you make beyond the training time will go into a trust for Max and Toby.

I am proud to call Dutch and Becky my friends. Please take a look at the following short video to learn more about Max and Toby’s plight (they also have a Facebook page here). Any help you can give to these wonderful Pittsburghers who have given so much of themselves to our city will be gratefully appreciated.