MaryKay was paralyzed from the chest down in a car accident in July 1986. She thought about getting an assistance dog, but was dismayed by the fact that she could never interact physically with or pet a dog. She learned about Helping Hands from a news broadcast one night, about 18 years after her injury. She knew this was the service animal she had been looking for. When Amy arrived, MaryKay’s life took on new purpose.
Having a monkey helper has given me so much more independence. Amy can reach things on a shelf or in a drawer and put it back. She turns lights on and off. She can get things out of a refrigerator like a bottle, open it and put a straw in it. She can put disks in the computer or DVD player. She can open a door, let me through it and push it closed. She can scratch an itch on my face and brush my hair. When she hands me something like a remote or a phone she gives it to me face up. Amy is very loving towards me and always looks to me for approval, affection, support, compassion, and to meet all of her needs. It is a very symbiotic relationship.
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Watch MaryKay and Amy together in the short film, Beyond the Tasks.