SMITH COUNTY (KYTX) - A little boy's dream to save East Texas animals is becoming a reality. 14-year-old Nicholas Nash has established a nonprofit, Nicholas' Pet Haven, which will soon become an animal shelter.
There's nothing Nicholas cares about more.
"I love animals so much!" he says.
Six months ago, he took that love and turned it into action.
"When my mom helped a friend of ours get their animal back, I just thought that we could make a Facebook page to help other animals," he says.
Hundreds of posts on that Facebook page that showed him how many animals needed saving.
"We really needed a shelter because all the animals, all the strays need to be put somewhere so they can find a home," he says.
So Nicholas is taking 100 acres of his family's land off of I-20 in Smith County and building that much needed shelter.
"Nicholas is a blessing to the community, says local animal advocate John David Carrasco, who has been trying to help solve Smith County's stray problem for a while now.
"I heard Nicholas' story and it really inspired me to see a 13-year-old, he was 13 at the time, to see his vision, and I wanted to help that vision become a reality," Carrasco says.
Carrasco helped establish a 501c3 called Nicholas' Pet Haven and is helping Nicholas raise the $50,000 needed for phase one of the shelter, which includes a shelter and dog park.
Once they've finalized plans and picked architects, they'll start to clear acres of brush on Nicholas' land to make way for the shelter and the dog park. If all goes according to plan, it could be ready in 6 months.
When that's all done, Team Nicholas plans to raise even more money through fundraisers to build phase two: transitional housing for abused animals.
"Lots of people wanted it to happen!" Nicholas says.
So he promises, it will.
The volunteers who plan to run the shelter are holding a big auction this weekend to raise money for phase one. They'll be selling community-donated items like art and antique furniture.
It's at 10 a.m. at The Forum, on the corner of Broadway and Front Street in Tyler. There will be an auction preview at the Forum on Friday, from noon to 6 p.m.
To check out Nicholas' Facebook page, click here.
To donate to Nicholas' Pet Haven, click here.