Current Recipients

From 1979 -2020, we placed our monkey helpers with people who were living with many different mobility-limiting issues. Most of our recipient-monkey helper pairs spend a decade or more together, with full support from the Helping Hands staff. We will continue to provide support for all our active placements throughout their time together.

Their relationships are unique, remarkable, and life-changing. Here are their stories.

Billy & Phoebe

Billy was the outgoing friend who made sure everyone was included and was everyone’s best friend, according to Deb, his mother. “Everyone knew, if you needed something, call Billy. Unfortunately, this all ended on August 20, 2017, when Billy had his accident, breaking his C4 & C5 vertebrae and leaving him paralyzed from the shoulders down.


Kent & Farah

Kent was an active family man, chef, and handyman—always on the go. On August 2, 2006, an auto accident left him with a spinal cord injury—paralyzed from the chest down. While Kent was away recovering for an entire year (in and out of hospitals and rehab facilities that were more than an hour away from home), his wife Nancy began to educate herself about living with paralysis. That is when she discovered Helping Hands.


Maryanne & Jessica

Paralyzed since 2007 as a result of a sudden blood clot in her spine, Maryanne has adapted to the dramatic change in her life. A massage therapist for 20 years, she renovated her home to be accessible and learned how to be independent again. Her sense of independence and purpose grew when Jessica came to live with her.


Ned & Kasey

In 2005, Ned Sullivan was your typical college student—a senior at the University of Arizona studying communications and planning for a future career in sports marketing. His life changed in an instant when a serious car crash left him a quadriplegic. While Ned was recovering, his sisters learned about Helping Hands at a school presentation and introduced him to the program. In 2006, he was matched with his service monkey, Kasey.


Scott & Melanie

In July 2009, Scott broke his neck in a diving accident at the C3 level and was left completely paralyzed from the neck down with no movement or sensation. “As you can imagine, it has been a very challenging journey back to where I am today,” said Scott. “While I am still unable to move below the neck, my quality of life has greatly improved. One of the major improvements is due in part to the addition of Melanie, my helper monkey.”


Corrine & Glassie

At age 17, Corinne started experiencing early signs of Multiple Sclerosis which continued to progress, leaving her fully paralyzed on the left side of her body by age 36.  A devoted wife and mother, Corinne applied to Helping Hands after the passing of her first service animal, a dog named Fred. Corrinne was matched with Glassie in June 2008.


MaryKay & Amy

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.