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Opportunities for Kindness

#86 Service dog for student involved in a tragic auto accident

Emma's Story in her mothers words:

"Hi and thank you for taking the time to read our story! Meet our daughter, Emma, who is in need of a service dog! Emma is 11 years old and has been through some extremely unfortunate, life altering, circumstances that have led us here.

Emma has always been a very normal, active, girl. You could always find her climbing something, riding something, or just being a wild little thing! She was always on the go and always had the energy to just keep going some more! Emma is extremely creative and artistic and it is one thing that continues to shine through for her.

On May 23rd, 2021, is when tragedy struck our family. We (Emma’s mom and dad) went to dinner to celebrate our anniversary. On our way back from picking Emma and her siblings up from their grandparents, we were hit by a drunk driver who was over 4x the legal limit, at about 100 mph, while at a standstill on the highway due to construction. Our entire family was in the car at the time. Mom, dad, Emma, her little brothers Eli and Carter, along with her little sisters Blakely and Faye. Emma was sitting exactly where the drunk driver hit and suffered severe injuries. The major injuries Emma sustained were:

  • -internal decapitation
  • -cardiac arrest
  • -TBI (traumatic brain injury)
  • -brain bleed
  • -ruptured spleen
  • -collapsed lung
  • -broken tibia/fibia

Emma actually died at the scene, but was fortunately resuscitated. Our newborn baby, Faye, who was only 4 weeks old, was also killed in the crash. She was also able to be resuscitated at the scene, but was declared brain dead 3 days later. Faye was able to be an organ donor, and was able to give the gift of life to two others in need. She is forever our hero!

The first few days after the crash, the uncertainty of all of Emma’s injuries were a huge source of concern. We didn’t know if she would be paralyzed, have to have her broken leg amputated due to possible infections, if she would have cognitive issues, or if she would even be able to pull through at all. She had many ups and downs during her stay in the hospital. Emma had to be intubated, which ended up with her needing to use a tracheostomy. She also needed to have a gastronomy tube placed as well. Thankfully, after about 2 weeks in the ICU, Emma was able to start moving her legs a bit which was a huge relief for everyone! Her arms took a bit longer, but eventually she was able to start moving those as well. Due to her spinal cord injury, motor functions are a huge issue, even still to this day. Emma spent 4 weeks in the ICU and then was transferred to another childrens hospital for inpatient rehabilitation therapy which lasted 6 weeks. Emma spent those 6 weeks in daily speech, feeding, occupational and physical therapy. Those 6 weeks were extremely crucial for her recovery. Emma came home from rehab walking, but with help from a wheelchair and gait belt and still needing help with just about everything.

A little over a year later, Emma is doing better than expected, but with her spinal cord injury, many things are still a huge struggle for her. Emma still has major stability issues, struggles with PTSD and anxiety, cognitive issues, speech issues, and all over, motor function issues. A service dog would greatly help her with all of these issues! Emma was accepted into the 4 Paws for Ability program for a multipurpose service dog. A service dog would mean more independence for Emma, and as an 11 year old, that would mean the world to her! It would mean more reassurance that if she needs something and can’t communicate it properly, that her service dog would be able to for her with a bark command. If Emma falls, her service dog could immediately alert someone or even help her back up. If Emma is having emotional issues, her service dog would also be able to help with that as well! Any stability, issues, she would also have the help from her service dog!

It costs 4 Paws between $40,000-$60,000 to raise, train, and place a service dog. Our family is asked to raise $20,000 of that to help pay for a service dog. Your donation to help our daughter receive her service dog would mean the absolute world to us, but especially to Emma! If you aren’t able to donate, we completely understand, as I know all of us have been hit hard financially lately, but please consider donating your time to 4 Paws instead then!"

Link to more information on 4 Paws for Ability -> https://www.4pawsforability.or...

As of January 25, 2023 $6,500 as been raised since September 2022, leaving $13,500 left to go. 

How would a service dog impact this student?

 Because of the injuries and disabilities Emma now has, a service dog would help Emma in a multitude of ways. The biggest way a service dog would help Emma would be for stability and for walking purposes. Because of Emma’s spinal cord injury, she is still a fall risk and a dog could help keep her balance, help her back up if she would fall, as long as she didn’t actually get hurt in the fall, but in the event that Emma would get hurt, a service dog would be able to go get her help as well. Emma’s vocal cords were injured when she was intubated, and were affected by her spinal cord injury as well, so she is not able to project very loudly in the event that she would need help. Her normal tone now, is almost a whisper, so a service dog would be taught to help communicate for Emma with a bark command, which would be extremely beneficial to her. With everything that Emma has gone through, she has been diagnosed with PTSD, and increased anxiety(she already had anxiety prior to the crash), a service dog would be able to provide Emma emotional support as well. Dogs can help reduce anxiety, and release serotonin. Emma received a TBI during the crash, so all these emotions can be even more severe for her. A service dog would be taught Emma’s triggers and be taught when Emma is going through any emotional issues. With all that being said, a service dog would be able to help Emma in school very well. At this point in time, per doctors orders, Emma does need an aide at all times because she is a fall risk and because she is not able to speak loudly. If she had a service dog with her, an aide would not be needed at all times, because her service dog would help with walking and stability, and could help with getting someone if Emma needed help. At school, a lot of times Emma can get very overwhelmed, so a service dog would be able to help Emma calm down if she starts having anxiety or PTSD issues. At home, all of the help a service dog would be able to provide, would still be very much the same. A service dog would just help give Emma the independence she deserves, within reason. A service dog is a medical device, and has been recommended by her care team.

If you are interested in contributing to the cost of a service dog for Emma please Click "I can help", once you have submitted your information you will automatically receive a email with instructions. You may mail a check to Mad River Local Schools c/o Neighborhood Bridges 801 Old Harshman rd. Dayton, OH 45431 OR click the link to donate online. Your information will be automatically link to this need so we know where to direct your donation. 


Thank you for spreading kindness through Riverside. 


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