By Brad Bowman
Brandon Graves wants to help animals… and scare you to death while he does it.
Graves, 11, got his dog Lucky, a Cockapoo, from the Henry-Trimble County Animal Shelter after a raid on a local puppy mill in 2011.
“When we got my dog Lucky, I saw that they didn’t have all the supplies like food, shampoo and beds they needed,” Graves said. “We couldn’t take them all home. My grandparents do this every year and I thought this year people could bring donations for the shelters.”
Graves’ grandparents’ home will host a haunted house attraction built on their property filled with maze-like corridors, black lights, spooky sounds and about 12 different ghastly characters in the haunted house corridors on Vernon Street for Halloween night.
The attraction will be free and Graves just asks for donations to help out his four-legged friends. Graves and his family have made about 500 treat bags for trick or treaters and will have canopies up in case of rain.
Graves, with the support of local businesses and the city of Eminence, expects a turnout of several hundred people. Mark Blackburn, of Mark’s Barbershop, said Graves impressed him and he will appear as one of the characters in the haunted house.
“He came up with the concept to raise money for the animal shelters and I’ve never seen a kid like him,” Blackburn said. “For an 11-year-old he has a heart like no one has. He worries about everyone else before himself.”
Brandon’s mother, Angela Graves is impressed with her son and how the event continues to grow.
“I’ve always known he has a big heart and it’s all just above and beyond what I would expect,” Angela Graves said. “He always has new ideas and he made out these fliers, he thinks about things afterwards and thinks about what he should do next. He has rounded up 12 characters so far and the list keeps growing. He even learned about design and the architectural part of it once they had it built.”
Chad Johnson, of Chad Johnson Floor Covering, constructed the front of the haunted house and Graves helped build his part of the attraction he calls ‘Carn-evil.’
“It’s very scary in there. People should come so they can help the animal shelters out,” Brandon Graves said. “They should help the cats and dogs because sometimes they seem look sad like they want to come home with you. It’s fun to help someone out and you will feel happy about it after you do it.”
Graves has garnered help and donations from Cook’s Pharmacy, Nationwide Fence, Chad Johnson Floor Covering, Perry’s Hardware and Walmart in Shelbyville and La Grange. Admission is free but Graves asks for donations like food, leashes, collars, cleaning supplies and pet treats. Donation bins would be on site and Graves can’t accept any monetary donations.
“He is a person with a big heart,” said Dan Flinkfelt, Henry County animal control officer. “We (the animal shelter) appreciate what he is doing. Kids tend to not see the world around them and Brandon not only sees the world, but wants to make it a better place for all.”
Graves’ grandfather Larry Trail thinks it will be a fun time for the community and for charity.
“It’s free for everyone with or without a donation, and it’s a good way for everyone to enjoy it,” Trail said. “People can help themselves, but animals can’t. They can’t ask for food if they need it. Brandon loves animals and hates to see them abused. He’s an animal lover.”
The haunted house will be open on Vernon Street in Eminence starting Thursday, Oct. 31 at 6 p.m.