A New Leash on Life: Mansfield Girl Fighting Rare Disorder Raises Money for Service Dog Through Shoe Drive

MANSFIELD — Emma Lasater loves shoes. The 13-year-old currently has more than 8,000 pairs in her home. “This is pretty much torture for me, looking at all the shoes, because I’m a shoe person,” Emma said with a grin. "Every pair I see I'm like, is this my size?"But the shoes aren't hers to keep. They serve a different purpose -- helping Emma raise money for the service dog she desperately needs.From the time she was born in 2003, Emma has been in and out of the hospital, fighting level 10 pain in both her brain and stomach."Every other year something would be wrong,” her mother, Brandy Lasater, said.It wasn’t until 2011, when she was hospitalized for two weeks, that her family learned her problem. Emma suffers from hemiplegic migraines, a rare condition that has little to do with headaches, and actually mimics a stroke."There's times she can't walk or talk for hours at a time,” said Lasater, 37.Emma often cannot tell when the seizures will occur, like on a recent Monday when she was standing at home and suddenly fell over."It's scary,” Emma said.That is where the patient pooch comes in. Lasater connected with a company called 4 Paws for Ability, which specializes in service dogs for children. The nonprofit will train a dog to alert Emma before her seizures occur.“They actually researched her condition,” Lasater said. “That's unique, they actually knew what her condition meant.”The dog was the solution Emma and her parents had been looking for. The challenge was the cost. Service dogs usually cost anywhere from $30,000 to $70,000. After some help from 4 Paws, her family still was faced with covering $17,000 of the cost.4 Paws provided the Lasaters with a list of fundraising options, but it was the pigtailed teen who decided on the shoe drive.“Emma saw this and said, 'If we do this, it helps me but it helps other people’," Lasater said.  Continue reading...

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