Surprise teen battling epilepsy needs money to help train service dog

Posted at 10:56 PM, Feb 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-12 00:56:53-05

A Surprise teenager is in need of money to help train a service dog that'll help her cope with epilepsy. 

Tara Ditommaso describes her family as a "normal" family. The woman and her husband have three daughters together and two of them are still in high school.

However, her 15-year-old daughter, Bailey, has suffered seizures since she was an infant. In 2009, when the Bailey was in third grade, she was diagnosed with epilepsy. 

"I like to describe her as beautifully complicated," Tara says. "I get a letter in the mail that says 'Your child has epilepsy.'"

Over the past eight years, the family has tried to discover new ways to combat the neurological disorder. Bailey's older sister, 16-year-old Reese, has also tried to pitch in with her sister's medical expenses by selling juice boxes at her school for 50 cents a piece. 

However, despite hours of testing and trips to the hospital, Bailey's seizures have persisted and because of that it has robbed Bailey of her independence and privacy, Tara says.

"She must have an escort in the hallways at school," she says. "she's never to be left alone. To always have escorts to the bathroom, an escort to the nurse's office, to the lunch room, the drinking fountain." 

Bailey, who is now a sophomore, recently got a seizure alert/awareness dog and named him Hugo. However, the training is expensive and can cost up to $8,000 for six months of classes.

Tara says the hope is that Bailey will have bonded with the dog before her senior year oh high school so that she can take it to college with her.

"She knows no other life," she says. "She only knows how to family and I are all just warriors trying to help her win her battle."