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Published April 28 2010

It takes a few to Tango

It’s been, at times, a difficult road for the Frank family during the past year, but there were only smiles and tears of joy Tuesday afternoon.

Chris and Kristin Frank of Moorhead have been working for nearly a year to raise enough money to afford a service dog for their 3 1/2-year-old son, Logan, who has autism.

With help from State Bank & Trust’s “Pay It Forward” program, the Franks earlier this month were able to pay the remaining $2,500 needed for the dog’s training at Compassionate Paws in Wisconsin.

The family welcomed the dog, named Tango, this week.

And Tuesday, members of the Fargo-Moorhead business community – led by State Bank & Trust employees – surprised the Franks with a bonus: thousands of dollars worth of items and services to aid in taking care of the dog.

The items included everyday pet-care tools, hundreds of dollars worth of gift cards to local pet stores, a year’s worth of Nutro dog food, six months’ worth of waste removal from Doggy Doo Guru, three free annual exams at Animal Health Clinic and free dog grooming for life from Bubba & Co.

“This is overwhelming; I never expected this,” Chris Frank said after the donations were presented by representatives of the businesses. “We couldn’t have done this without the support of our community, and you’ve proved that we live in a truly great community.”

Kristin Frank was moved to tears at the show of generosity and support.

“We’ve got more family now,” she said. “And it’s just all for Logan. He’s the sun and the moon.”

The feeling was mutual for the business representatives.

“This grew far beyond what we expected,” said Karla Winandy, a customer service team leader at State Bank & Trust. “What we got out of it is so much more than what we put in.”

The Franks began looking last summer for community help in raising the $15,000 needed to purchase a trained service dog, which would help Logan cope with overwhelming social situations.

In September, Logan was the first benefactor of a fundraiser put on by the nonprofit DreamGivers Foundation. Although some funds were raised toward paying for Tango, problems stemming from the fundraiser resulted in bitter feelings between the Franks and DreamGivers.

Several months later, though, with the help of other community groups, the Franks’ dream was a reality, as Logan played joyfully with Tango in the family’s backyard.

The Franks said they have already seen a noticeable change in Logan’s social interactions because of Tango’s presence.

“I don’t want to say he’s a miracle, but he’s pretty darn close,” Kristin Frank said. “It’s amazing.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541