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Comics for autism: Federal Way shop helps Auburn family
There's a family in Auburn – the Andrews. Their little boy, Austin, is afflicted with autism.
He desperately needs a trained dog to help him through his day-to-day life: to keep him safe, warn adults of spikes in his moods, and be a constant companion.
Enumclaw resident Tim Keaty, a close friend of the Andrews, took it upon himself to help this family achieve their goal of $15,000. Partnering with Fantasium Comics and Games in Federal Way, Keaty has donated his collection of more than 2,500 comic books to Austin's cause.
On June 30, Fantasium hosted an event called Austin's Autism Service Dog Dollar Drive. Each of Keaty's comics went on sale for $1, and some of them even sported signatures from the artists and writers.
“I'm really just trying to help a friend,” said Keaty. “It's really weird, but I'm hoping my entire collection will be gone.”
Keaty said that his comics were just sitting in a closet collecting dust. He thought that this would be the best way to help.
Keaty wasn't alone in his desire to help the Andrews. Paula Currey, co-owner of Fantasium Comics and Games, was more than happy to give Keaty the space he needed to sell his comics.
“They have already raised a lot of money for the cause,” said Currey, referring to the Andrews family. “We're just trying to help out.”
Currey said that Keaty's comics will be on display until the end of July, and that most of them will remain at $1, except for a few select issues.
Mandalorian Mercs to the rescue
For those that ventured into Fantasium on Saturday, they were in for another special treat. The Mandalorian Mercs invaded the shop to support Austin's cause.
The Mandalorian Mercs Costume Club is a nationwide organization based on the characters and concepts from the Star Wars universe. Most closely resembling Boba Fett, The Mandalorian Mercs are well known in the geek community and enjoy promoting charity events.
One of the Mercs, a white and grey armored fighter named Tesla Dray'ah, said that the Mercs are everywhere.
“Our group is usually somewhere in Western Washington,” said Dray'ah. “We also partner with other groups, like the 501st and the Rebel Legion. We were at Emerald City Comic Con.”
Another Merc named Rax Tull said that he'd only been in the troop for about four months.
“I saw them at Comic Con and thought it would be a fun way to help give back to the community,” said Tull. “It's really just me doing something I love. It's geeking out and giving back.”
The Mercs occupied Fantasium for more than four hours June 30. They brandished pistols and laser repeaters, browsed the comic selection and even posed for pictures with customers.
As the afternoon wore on, the Andrews made an appearance.
Holly Andrew, her husband, Jim, and their daughter, Grace, stopped by to participate in the sale. They were pleased with what they saw.
“This is amazing,” said Holly Andrew. “We are already at around $12,500 and I hope that this will help put us over the top.”
The reason the cost for the animal is so high, she said, is because of all the special factors and tasks the dog will be trained to perform.
“The dog will either be a retriever, labrador, or one of those bred with a poodle,” said Andrew. “They will raise it from a puppy to respond to Austin. They'll fly us down there for a week, then they'll bring the dog to us.”
Andrew also said that the dog will be keyed into Austin's anxiety levels and be tolerant of being squeezed or laid upon.
“Austin will also be attached to the dog on a leash. He's already left his school three different times, and the dog will keep him from going anywhere alone,” said Andrew.
After 4 p.m., the Mandalorian Mercs said their farewells and withdrew from Fantasium, another successful mission completed.
As the excitement died down, and life returned to normal at Fantasium, Paula Currey said that the shop had raised more than $300 for Austin's service dog.
Although Tim Keaty had mixed feelings about selling off his comic book collection, it was clear that he had no qualms about helping his friends.
Check it out
Fantasium, located at 1500 S. 336th St. Suite 12A in Federal Way, will keep the comic books on sale until the end of July, maintaining the price of $1. Visit www.fantasiumcomics.com.
Pictured: Tim Keaty has donated his collection of more than 2,500 comic books to Austin's cause.
Pictured: The Mandalorian Mercs participated in the June 30 charity event at Fantasium Comics and Games in Federal Way