Arts & Entertainment

Governor Livingston Alumna Donnie Kanter Winokur in Town for Book Signing of Memoir, 'Chancer - How One Good Boy Saved Another'

2509742ea7fff06701f9_23157258_10214401268608889_2554466344340544312_o.jpg
Author and Gov. Livingston Alumna Donnie Winokur in town for book signing of "Chancer - How One Good Boy Saved Another" at Delicious Heights on January 18 at 7 p.m.
23bdc725c1777a65d6ba_4381WHS_Chancer_2009email.jpg
0d0a384938307a3cce90_3_with_blue_chair.jpg
194ce82eed6e4f266fcb_Book_Cover.jpg
2509742ea7fff06701f9_23157258_10214401268608889_2554466344340544312_o.jpg

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Governor Livingston graduate and former Berkeley Heights resident, Donnie Kanter Winokur, is thrilled to be heading back to Berkeley Heights next week to see old friends and sign copies of her new book, “Chancer-How One Good Boy Saved Another,” a touching memoir that was published in 2017.

In her years at Governor Livingston, Winokur was deeply involved in the drama department and performed in many GL productions, including Oklahoma! and How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying,  “Most of my world was in theater, even previous to GL. It was also in Chorale and that was so much fun and meaningful on so many levels, I absolutely loved high school,” recalled Winokur.

She went on to study drama at Catholic University, but ultimately got her degree in Psychology from Emory University. Winokur believes her studies helped her guide her family through the long struggle of understanding their son, Iyal’s, diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).  FAS is the most severe form of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs).  She focused on trying to understand his disorder, “It was really important to understand what was behind the behavior, the meltdowns and Iyal’s inability to grasp abstract things like time. Iyal lived in the present, because he wasn’t able to anticipate the future, nor remember what happened beforehand. So, in a lot of ways for Iyal, it was a new day, but it was the same day.”

Sign Up for E-News

It was during her anguish, struggling through a labyrinth of medications, therapies and interventions that she decided to try something truly innovative, she decided to take a chance on a therapy in the form of a ninety pound golden retriever named Chancer. Chancer became the first certified FASD assistance dog in the world and he furthermore became her son Iyal’s salvation. Chancer couldn’t cure her son’s illness, but he could help regulate behavior that Iyal could not regulate himself thereby helping him to navigate the world around him.

This is not the first book for Winokur, who graduated from Governor Livingston High School in 1974, but it is her first memoir. She wrote and co-wrote two award-winning children’s books (one with her daughter Morasha) before sitting down to write her poignant story. In her memoir, she describes her journey from adopting her two children from Russia, eventually facing a devastating diagnosis of FAS when her son Iyal was four years old, and ultimately to finding her way to becoming a champion for Iyal and for those who suffer from invisible developmental disabilities. 

“Chancer was written for a couple of reasons,” said Winokur, talking from her home in Roswell, Georgia, “Partly because people with invisible disabilities are often judged in a negative way because people can’t see what’s going on. Their behavior is different and it tends to make others uncomfortable.” Winokur quickly realized that Chancer was her son’s ticket to acceptance, “Chancer was a neon sign for us, strangers and friends could see we were on it, they had a visual cue that we got it, that we were dealing with the problem.” Chancer, a gorgeous golden, also brought Iyal into social circles simply by his presence beside him.

Talk to Winokur now and you won’t hear a hint of the world-weariness you might have expected. She is optimistic and focused on what’s next; for her kids and for her cause.  “I think it’s essential to remove the shame and the blame that’s associated with FAS.  The stigma is what prevents women from going to get prenatal care and for after they have the baby. There is so much negativity around it; they don’t want to get help,” she said. Because of Winokur, there is a new kind of help, ”Service dogs can help with the behavioral assistance, the unique training that Chancer had.” She is also thrilled with Iyal’s progress, “Now, he has become a really caring person.” Iyal creates videos on his phone and uses software on his computer to do editing, sound effects and voice-overs. “He’s now writing, directing and producing videos and uploading to his YouTube channel, it’s incredibly heartening that he could have a career in film and that’s where were headed with him,” said Winokur.  Winokur is headed towards helping to shift public misconceptions about FASD and other invisible disabilities.

At the books release, “Chancer- How One Good Boy Saved Another” was an Amazon number one bestseller in the special needs category. Winokur will be at Delicious Heights on January 18th at 7 p.m. to sign copies of her book. She will also be featured at Short Stories Bookshop and Community Hub in Madison on January 17th at 7 p.m.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Mountainside

Upcoming Events

Sat, January 20

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Sat, January 20, 12:30 AM

Clark Public Library, Clark

North Jersey Aquarium Society Monthly Saturday ...

Home & Garden

Sat, January 20, 9:00 AM

The Reeve History and Cultural Resource Center, Westfield

Wesfield Historical Society Offers Cursive ...

Arts & Entertainment Education Giving Back

Sun, January 21

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Sun, January 21, 2:00 PM

Miller-Cory House Museum, Westfield

The Wonderful World of Snow Globes

Education Other

Sun, January 21, 2:30 PM

The Reeve History and Cultural Resource Center, Westfield

Westfield Historical Society Presents: T. Thomas ...

Arts & Entertainment Giving Back Home & Garden

Union County Manager Faella Announces His Retirement Effective March 1

January 9, 2018

 

ELIZABETH, NJ---Mountainside resident and Union County Manager Alfred J. Faella, the County’s top-appointed executive responsible for the day-to-day operations of a government that provides services to more than half a million residents, has announced his retirement effective March 1st.

Faella, 62, announces his retirement after a career spanning 25 years in City, State ...

Claude Fusco Joins Imagine Board of Trustees

January 20, 2018

 

Claude had a 36-year career at Ernst & Young LLP including 25 years as a partner serving in various roles around the globe including an International Tax Client Service Partner, Director of Tax for Ernst & Young International, Global Chair of Expatriate Tax Services, and New Jersey Managing Partner.

Claude resided in Westfield with his family from 1986 to 2009. He was married ...

The Role of Meal Replacements in Weight Loss

January 15, 2018

Obesity is at epidemic proportions in the United States and in other developed and developing countries. The prevalence of obesity is increasing not only in adults, but also in children and adolescents. We all know that obesity is a significant risk factor for various chronic illnesses, most importantly heart disease and diabetes, but also cancer and osteoarthritis, liver and kidney disease, ...

I’m Not Happy

Rewind to August.  The car was anxiously packed, summer reading was done (does the movie count?), and it was time to start the journey to campus.  There had been so much anticipation for this moment and you excitedly thought about what your first few days on campus would be like.  Maybe they were everything you thought they would be, maybe not.  Maybe somewhere along the way ...