Ten-month-old Elliana Balder appears to be a bright-eyed, active child, but she was recently diagnosed with epilepsy. The little girl, who is pictured here with her mother, Christa, suffers bouts of seizures and is currently on medication to control them. Now her family is working to raise funds to obtain a seizure alert dog that will recognize her symptoms.
“You wouldn’t know she had anything going on,” said her mother, Christa, who is a nurse at Harrison Community Hospital. “We started noticing from the time she was born that there was excessive staring and fussiness and she seemed to be shivering.”
A nurse suggested the family obtain a seizure alert dog, which costs $13,000. They were referred to 4 Paws for Ability, an organization that trains and matches dogs to their owners.
“They team with you and you raise money for their mission. They train a dog for five to 10 months and then we’ll go to Xenia and work with it.”
As part of the training, the Balders send one of Ellie’s shirts during her healthy period and following a seizure so the pooch could sense chemical changes. It will also be trained to recognize behavior alterations so it could alert the adults. The family would head to Xenia and complete trainings before they take the dog home. Christa said the new pooch would definitely assist the clan because, for now, family members take turns sleeping so an adult could watch over Ellie. She said fund-raisers would be scheduled after the holidays and hopefully the community would support the cause.
“We just started raising money and we’ll know after December how much we’ve got. We are waiting until after the holidays to hold events, but people may send donations to the 4 Paws For Ability organization and put Elliana’s name in the memo line of their checks. They can also go to the Web site, click on the ‘Make A Wish Come True’ section and Elliana’s name is at the top of the list. They can pay by credit card or PayPal.”
For more information or to donate, go to www.4pawsforability.org. Other details about epilepsy can be found at www.epilepsyfoundation.org.
For the full story see this weeks print edition of the Harrison News-Herald.
NH Photo/AMY GAREIS