WACO, Texas (KWTX) – A community of friends and family gathers once again around a 7-year-old girl who has already beaten brain cancer but now has constant seizures and needs a trained companion dog.
The group is raising money to provide Emma Beth Greenawalt’s four-year-old dog, aptly named Miracle, with special training to become a licensed seizure alert dog.
“It could save her life. Definitely,” said Emma’s mother, Missie.
Emma Beth is no stranger to adversity, but she has had a constant companion in many challenges, her German shepherd. Miracle was a gift from friends to Emma Beth after she completed radiation.
The first-grader at St. Paul’s Episcopal School in Waco was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor at the age of two.
Emma Beth underwent initial surgery in May 2016 to remove the tumor, followed by chemotherapy in June and the start of 30 rounds of radiation in November.
She was declared cancer-free, but as a result of the brain surgery and resulting scar tissue, she began to suffer from absence seizures, which are accompanied by short, sudden lapses in consciousness.
Emma Beth recently underwent tests that showed she had more than 300 of these seizures in just 48 hours.
Missie says it’s scary.
“With the amount of seizures she’s having, she’s at high risk of having full-blown seizures,” Missie said. “It affects their ability to learn. A lot happens at night, so her body just doesn’t rest.”
Emma Beth is on heavy medication, but Missie and her husband Micah wanted to find more relief for their daughter.
Missie found a seizure alert dog trainer in El Paso willing to train a dog for a girl like Emma Beth. Often, Missie says, trainers want patients to be a little older so they can handle the dog better on their own.
But Miracle seems up for the job.
“The coach said, ‘I want her so bad,'” Missie recalls. “She has the best temperament and never meets a stranger. She is just the sweetest and kindest dog, so God knew what he was doing when she was given to us at the end of the radiation treatment.”
The training costs nearly $20,000 for three years. However, the result could save Emma Beth’s life.
Missie says Miracle would be able to sense a seizure 10 seconds beforehand.
“She will put her paw on Emma’s body and press her body against her and prevent her from falling and hitting her head,” Missie explained. “If she’s standing against a closet or a wall, she’s being trained to put her paws against her body.”
Casey Turner is a friend of the Greenawalts and helped organize one Fundraiser on GiveSendGoa Christian crowdfunding website.
Missie works at St. Paul’s, where Casey’s children go to school, and says her family deserves the gift more than anyone.
“Missie is so sweet and takes care of our kids every day. Emma Beth is a living doll and I couldn’t appreciate Missie’s service to our school more. You’ve been through a lot and deserve to have that dog for Emma Beth.”
Missie said the community support is beyond words.
“We were here in 2016 with a 20 percent chance of surviving and our amazing community came together for us then and to see it gather again there are no words to express our gratitude and love and how grateful we are to have such community behind us,” she said.
Missie hopes to launch Miracle for eight weeks in her first session in early April in El Paso.
The fundraiser’s goal is $19,000, leaving only a few weeks to raise the additional $14,000. But for Emma Beth and the community behind her, no one doubts a miracle.
“Emma Beth is so excited to get started,” Missie said. “She can’t wait to have Miracle at school.”
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