About the Winokur family
"The Winokurs of Roswell, Georgia, had no idea of the journey that was in store for them when they adopted son, Iyal, and daughter, Morasha, two seemingly healthy babies from Russia in 1999. Iyal’s eventual diagnosis at age four with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) the most severe expression of (FASD), a debilitating and life-long birth defect that forever changed their lives."
“Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD) may be the most undiagnosed AND misdiagnosed developmental disability of our time,” says Winokur. “Chancer legitimizes and gives a uniquely inviting presence to Iyal’s otherwise invisible disability.”
Since 2006, Donnie Kanter Winokur has been passionately advocating for her now 14 year-old son Iyal and those who share his particular disability, FASD, which affects nearly 1 out of every 100 live births in the United States and Europe.
The Winokur family's determination to help Iyal navigate a world that remained unfriendly to a child exhibiting uncontrollable and inappropriate behaviors with no outwardly visible cause led them in 2008 to Chancer, the first certified service dog in the world trained specifically to assist a child with FASD.
Building awareness of FASD has become a family affair to help other individuals living with the complex issues of this hidden disability.
- In 2009, Donnie and her daughter, Morasha, co-authored My Invisible World: Life With My Brother, His Disability and His Service Dog. Morasha's books has opened discussion and hope for siblings of children with FASD. In 2010, Morasha’s work earned a Gold in the Young Contributor’s category of the Mom’s Choice Awards and Best Children's Book of the Year from Readers View.
- In June 2011, Iyal, who only spoke in couplets when Chancer joined his family in 2008, shared the Torah reading in Hebrew with the congregation at his Bar Mitzvah. Chancer lay near his feet. His father, Rabbi Harvey Winokur, officiated.
- In November 2011, Donnie published her second book Nuzzle: Love Between a Boy and His Service Dogwith Jodee Kulp's design and artwork to build bridges of understanding for children as young as age three. In February 2012, she released Nuzzle as an audio book. Nuzzle has now received six national and international awards and continues to receive great reviews.
Then in February 2012...
Wonder Dog by Melissa Fay Greene was featured in the New York Times Sunday Magazine and became the most emailed story for over thirty days. In addition, it was republished in Reader's Digest Canada in May 2012. Their story was read by millions worldwide.
Rabbi Harvey, Donnie, Morasha and Iyal continue to share their reality along with hopes and dreams and strategies for success. They speak to professional audiences, schools and family programs. And Chancer Winokur continues to BARK out the LOUDEST for FASD awareness. He has become a social lubricant for more than just "his" boy, he has opened the door to the world. Chancer's Story is now being made into a movie for the general public.
Thank you to the Winokur family for sharing their story with so many, in so many ways. Their dedication to helping families and children of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD) and service dog training is inspirational.