By Jasmine Willis
DANSVILLE — A local man has made it his mission to donate to the animals in need.
Kaleb Kenney, 25, of Dansville has lived with autism all his life. His mother, Michelle
Lawrence-Macafee noticed a great change in him when he started working around horses.
The Livingston County and Wyoming ARC has given Kenney an outlet to do what he loves most. They all helped him with projects and working with the animals.
“He has a genuine love for animals. He donated to a mini-horse rescue last year. This year his focus was on helping cats that had no place to go. This hit home with him since he has a three-legged cat he loves very much,” Lawrence-Macafee said. “Last year he learned a lot working with the horses. He learned how to ride them and take care of them. The horses calmed him down, and he learned a lot about handling his emotions being around them. He was excited about grooming them and riding them.”
Lawrence-Macafee said Kenney’s goal was to give back to the community. With help from his team, he built 107 flower planters and raised nearly $2,000. The money was donated to four different charities: Barn Cat Outreach, Hornell Area Humane Society, Habitat for Cats and Hearthside Cats Inc. All the wood used on the flower planters came from local Amish.
“There are a lot of people who know my son in this town. He is a great guy. He has always had a kind heart. He hates seeing animals suffer. He figures out life day to day,” Lawrence-Macafee said. “He developed autism at 18 months old. He was non-verbal at 4 years old. We went to work with him right away to help him on this journey. It has been a very long road, but a lot of good people in this town are attached to him. You need to have a calling for this. One lady worked with him all of his life and she still has a strong connection to him.”
Lawrence-Macafee said 25 years ago no one knew much about autism. She felt like there was no awareness or support in those days.
“He knows there are others in this world that are much more unfortunate, and he has a lot of empathy. He wanted to create something beneficial and donate money to rescue animals,” she said. “Kaleb needs to be recognized. He loves to make other people happy. We are very grateful to the Livingston County and Wyoming Arc for helping him with his goals and projects. The plan is to help him manage programs and find self-direction. He really thrives there, and they have blessed me.”