We are happy to introduce you to our 5-year-old daughter, Ryleigh. She is the sweetest, happiest girl who loves swimming, her pack of stuffed animal dogs, watermelon, and her two big brothers. Despite all the challenges life has thrown at her, Ryleigh has really taught us all how to embrace life, live it to the fullest, and find joy in every day.
Ryleigh was born with a cleft lip and palate, along with a few other medical complications, and had 8 surgeries in the first two years of her life. Around her 3rd birthday, we noticed some quick episodes that appeared seizure-like. An EEG confirmed that she has generalized epilepsy. We have tried 9 different medications in the last two years and a strict medical ketogenic diet for a year to try and control her seizures, but nothing was giving her any control. Her seizures continued to get worse despite our best efforts, and in December, we repeated an EEG, which led to the diagnosis of Lennox-Gestuat Syndrome, a rare and severe form of intractable epilepsy.
In addition to her epilepsy, she also has some balance and mobility issues due to her legs being externally rotated. We’ve discussed options with her team of therapists, doctors, and friends and came to the conclusion that a service dog could really benefit her and give her some freedom to be a kid. Our hope is that a dog will help her navigate stairs/curbs and provide some stability for her when she’s walking outside on uneven terrain. A dog can also help alert us to any seizures she may have, as well as being a wonderful source of comfort and support for her during life and her many trips to PT, OT, speech, and her whole host of specialists.
We did a lot of research on where to find a service dog that would be the best fit for Ryleigh, and our search led us to 4 Paws for Ability. We were thrilled when she was accepted into their program and approved to get a service dog. They have the ability to provide Ryleigh with a multipurpose dog that can be used for mobility assistance, alert for seizures, and to provide her comfort after a seizure. It is a long process and will take a couple of years to get a dog, and the $20,000 cost to raise and train a dog specifically to her needs is a lot. But we strongly feel a service dog will improve her quality of life in a wonderful way that makes it worth it. If you feel led to help our sweet girl get her service dog, there are a few ways you can donate.
You can mail donations directly to 4 Paws. Please be sure to write “Ryleigh Lambright” in the memo line to ensure the donation goes to her.