KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When Kansas City Chiefs rookie George Karlaftis takes the field against Cincinnati on Sunday, he'll be doing more than trying to avenge an AFC Championship loss.
The defensive end will is spreading awareness for Canine Companions as part of the NFL's My Cause My Cleats program.
Canine Companions works to provide free, trained service dogs for those in need in the Kansas City area.
The cleats, pictured below, will feature Julio — a service dog who serves first-grader Patrick.
KSHB 41 spoke with Patrick and his family at Southeast Elementary in the Northland earlier this week.
Patrick, who is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, received Julio six months ago from Canine Companions. Since then, Patrick's mother Brie says Julio has been vital in supporting her son through physical, emotional and social needs.
"One of the biggest differences we've seen hasn't been necessarily in the physical tasks that Julio can help with," Brie said. "But socially, we've noticed Patrick is a lot more confident when he has Julio. He's a great social bridge to sort of relate to his peers, as you saw in the classroom. [It] really helps him notice that speech has improved quite a bit."
Canine Companions says the organization is thrilled to partner with Karlaftis.
"Thanks to George and this opportunity, we are able to continue raising awareness about the difference a service dog can make in someone's life," Canine Companions said in a statement. "A special thanks to our many volunteers in the Kansas City area, whom without this partnership would not have been possible."
Patrick was able to meet Karlaftis during training camp.