By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN She loves music, noodles, and horseback riding, but Luba Troussova isn’t like most 14-year-old girls.
Her parents, Maria and Tony, have only found one other person in the world who has the same chromosomal abnormality as their daughter.
“Luba has chromosome number 6 twice in her body, which makes her mentally challenged,” said Pamela McNaughton, Luba’s personal care assistant (PCA). “It’s extremely rare,”
The label for Luba’s condition is “global developmental disability.”
“On top of that, she’s got autism,” Tony said.
Luba’s family and friends are hoping to purchase a service dog to help her with daily activities.
A benefit to help Troussova’s family pay for the $9,000 service dog is set for Saturday, May 22 at the Delano Assembly of God Church.
The event will include a spaghetti dinner from 3 to 8 p.m., and silent auction from 3 to 7 p.m. From 4 to 6 p.m., the Christian band, Silent Substitute will be performing, and there will also be a talent show.
The dinner will include homemade spaghetti, salad, bread, and desserts.
“Anyone who would like to bring a dessert is welcome to, as well,” McNaughton said.
Silent auction items include restaurant and grocery gift certificates, flower arrangements, and a variety of gift baskets.
“The Troussova family is Russian, so there will be one filled with Russian chocolates and desserts,” McNaughton said.
Advance adult tickets are $10, and $12 at the door. Children ages 4 to 11 are $5, and ages 3 and under are free.
So far, the Troussova’s have raised $5,300 for Luba’s service dog, with about $3,700 to go.
The dog will be trained through a non-profit organization called Capable Canines of Wisconsin, Inc. The training process takes about nine months to a year.
In Luba’s case, the dog will either be a black Lab or a golden retriever, and will be able to help with search and rescue, alerting Luba of places she shouldn’t be going, and numerous other tasks.
Sometimes, Luba will get seizures in the middle of the night, McNaughton said.
“The dog will know she’s having it and will bark, and go to the door to wake up her parents,” McNaughton said.
“The dog will be that constant guard,” Tony added.
The dog will also provide much needed companionship and emotional support.
“Unfortunately, she doesn’t have friends to hang out with like most girls her age,” Tony said. “Hopefully, the dog will be that friend.”
Luba does enjoy spending time with her family, however. Her siblings include an 18-year-old brother, John, as well as three adopted siblings: Dennis, 15; Isaac, 10, and Anastasia, 3.
Luba’s condition has given the family some challenges, Tony said.
“Light and noise really affect her,” he said. The family can’t go out to the movies or to many restaurants together, because Luba can become irritated or afraid of her surroundings.
“Anything sudden really scares her,” Tony said. “Hopefully, this dog will provide comfort for her.”
Tony said they filled out the application for a service dog last October, after hearing about the idea from a friend.
They chose Capable Canines of Wisconsin, Inc. because a trainer personally comes to the family’s house to help the dog and owner adjust.
“It’s going to be custom-trained for her,” Tony said.
Because of the rarity of Luba’s condition, no one is sure how the disability will affect her in the future.
“There are no specifics on it,” McNaughton said.
Luba has been developmentally slow since birth, Tony said, and didn’t start walking until age 2.
“We knew right away something was up,” he said.
Luba isn’t able to attend to her own personal needs, but is able to receive an education at Delano High School with the help of a school-provided personal care assistant.
“She’s been a real joy here in the community,” Tony said.
Despite mental and physical handicaps, Luba is a “wonderful, wonderful child,” according to McNaughton.
She enjoys therapeutic horseback riding at Freedomfarm in Waverly, as well as attending concerts at the Delano School District.
Luba also makes up little songs and phrases, such as: “All I really need is a song in my heart, food in my belly, and love in my family.”
“There are some things she’s very smart with, and some things she doesn’t understand,” Tony said.
For example, Luba can comprehend words in both English and Russian.
Tony and Maria are originally from Russia, and moved to the US in 1991, when Tony was in college. The family lived on the East Coast for about eight years before coming to Minnesota, and they have lived in Delano since 2003.
“She is just a delight just a very loving child,” McNaughton said of Luba. “I’m so blessed to be able to share my days with her. I learn something from her every day.”
To make a monetary donation, purchase tickets for the benefit, donate items for the silent auction, or sign up for the talent show, contact McNaughton at (763) 670-6150.
To learn more about Capable Canines of Wisconsin, Inc., go to www.capablecanineswi.com.