As many of you know, I have been working with a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization out of Xenia, OH called 4 Paws for Ability in hopes to get my son, Austin, a special service dog trained in Seizure Alert. Typically, families waiting for a service dog are placed on a waiting list for 3-5 years or even more. We were lucky and committed to raising money for 4 Paws for Ability to further their mission and in return, they are placing us with a service animal just 12 months after our fundraising began. 4 Paws for Ability has made it their mission to provide service animals to children worldwide; and it costs them a total of $22,000 (or more) per animal.
Ever since Austin was 6months old, I had a gut feeling that something wasn’t right. Call it mother’s intuition, call it whatever you want, but I knew that we were going to have a long road ahead of us. After years of wondering what was “wrong” with my child and countless doctor’s appointments and referrals, Austin was diagnosed with a rare brain malformation known as Bilateral Perisylvian Polymicrogyria. BPP causes partial paralysis in facial muscles, difficulties in speaking, chewing and swallowing, and seizures. Austin’s delays were now understood, and we finally had the answer we had been waiting for. He was put on anti-convulsant medications to regulate his brain waves, and for over a year they seemed to be working.
Now, in day-to-day life, Austin still has breakthrough seizures. These can happen at any time, and present themselves in any form. These seizures have been occurring more frequently and at increasing severity. There is no way for him to know when one is coming, and we just have to hope that he is in a safe place when it happens. Every day, I live in fear that a seizure will strike, and he will fall, hit his head, break an arm, and do more damage. Every night, I wake up multiple times to check on him, making sure that a seizure is not taking place.
Despite all the challenges he has been faced with, Austin is still the most perfect little boy. Though he is non-verbal and requires assistive technology to communicate effectively, Austin is always smiling, extremely determined, and continues to remain positive every day. His teachers refer to him as the “Mayor of the School” because he has such an outgoing, friendly personality.
Austin has been placed in a class to train with his Seizure Alert Dog in October. We will have to travel to Ohio for 14 nights to meet, train with, and eventually bring home his new special friend!
Because of our good fortune, I have made it a mission of my own to raise more money for 4 Paws for Ability and help other families who may not have been so lucky. All donations to this cause will be sent directly to 4 Paws for Ability for other families who were not as fortunate in their fundraising mission. I sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart for any contribution you are able to make.
Additionally, I am always happy for runners to join my team! Please feel free to reach out to me for any info :)