Danbury Couple Finds Healing in the Embrace of Furry Friend


DANBURY, CT—A Danbury couple who recently lost their special needs son has found healing in the warm embrace of a furry friend. Stephanie Lyons-Keeley and her husband, Wayne Keeley, are mourning the loss of Wayne’s 23-year-old son, Wyatt, who passed away from complications due to Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) just three days before Christmas last year. With the help of a special furry feline friend they named Luke, they’ve been able to find some comfort and joy.

“We adopted Luke in great part to help mitigate my grief after losing Wyatt,” Wayne said. “And also because we knew we had the love, time, and attention to give to a special needs cat,” Stephanie added.

Luke is a “Minskin”—1/4 Sphynx, 1/4 Devon Rex, 1/4 Munchkin, and 1/4 Burmese—a breed which is currently the process of being fully accepted into The International Cat Association (TICA). Paul McSorley began crossbreeding the four cats in Boston in 1998 with plans to develop a cat with the finest traits in all of them, Stephanie explained. “In Luke, he definitely succeeded,” she said.

Luke wears diapers and has limited use of his hind legs. He’s been diagnosed with spina bifida, but a veterinary specialist wants to rule out a mass, other spinal deformity, or a spinal infection. Lukee will need an MRI to confirm. The differently-abled designer kitty was previously named “Able” but is now named Luke, after Luke Skywalker.

“Wyatt was a fan of Star Wars,” Stephanie noted,”and one of his favorite shows in the months before his passing was The Mandalorian. We learned that Luke means ’bright, white, bringer of light’ and were amazed. That’s just what Wyatt was and what Luke is as well. They both brought an amazing light to our lives. Everywhere we’d go, when people met Wyatt, they were charmed by his vibrant smile and go-getter attitude. He was always up for anything. Now with Luke, it’s much the same! Perhaps Wyatt brought us to Luke. Wyatt is our guardian angel and Luke is our angel cat on Earth.”

The Danbury Animal Welfare Society (DAWS) has taken an interest in Luke.Dr. Brenner, the primary veterinarian, saw him free of charge for his initial vet care.

“All of the staff fell in love with him,” Stephanie said.

“It was our pleasure to be Luke’s first stop on the long medical journey ahead of him. Our mission at DAWS is dedicated to improving the lives of animals. Doctor Brenner and our veterinary team performed a complimentary exam for Luke as part of our “Paw It Forward” program. We do our best to support pet owners in our community facing challenges, such as the financial ones that are often associated with a special needs pet. We were touched by Luke’s story and are hopeful that he will continue to thrive with the love and care the Keeleys provide,” stated Alice Meenan, Director of Development and Marketing with DAWS.

The couple is embarking upon getting a definitive diagnosis for Luke as well as pursuing potential treatment which could include surgery and/or a wheelchair, among other things.

“We are seeing a highly respected veterinarian named Jason Berg at Guardian Veterinary Specialists in Brewster. We began a GoFundMe to help with those costs. The MRI alone with fees will be upwards of $4,000 and that’s without any treatment,” said Stephanie.

She is hoping to spread the word across her social media channels to help fund his treatment.

“Because of the attention he’s been getting, and due in part to the pandemic and being home so much, I also began pursuing my artistic side. I opened stores on Etsy, Threadless, and Amazonthat feature his photo prints and other merchandise which have been digitally and artistically enhanced. He’s so beautiful, easy going, a great cat model, and wears bow ties and other clothing, that people just can’t get enough of him!”

If you would like to contribute to Luke’s medical expenses, please visit the family’s GoFundMe page: https://gofund.me/fa2d8106

Follow Luke’s journey by visiting any of the social media profile pages below:

  • Instagram: @luke_able_minskin and @lightbringershop
  • Facebook: @lukeableminskin and @lukelightbringershop

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Posted on May 4, 2021, in Arts and Culture, Community, Health & Wellness and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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