A Service Dog for Addie

My name is Adira***, and I am 22 years old. Before I tell you about my disabilities, I want to tell you about my abilities: I am an artist. I am a writer. I am a volunteer, student, sister, friend, and whole human being who hopes to help make the world even a little bit better in my lifetime.

I am diagnosed with several conditions, the main ones being: Ehlers-Danlos syndrome  (EDS — the same thing Sia has!), postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome  (POTS), mast cell activation syndrome  (MCAS), and post-traumatic stress disorder  (PTSD). EDS is genetic. The causes of POTS and MCAS are not well understood. My PTSD stems from sexual abuse that I experienced as a child, as well as witnessing my mother's injuries and traumatization in the 9/11 NYC terrorist attack, and surviving a sexual assault at age 19.

The list of symptoms I experience — some episodically, and some every day — is very long, but some examples include: joint pain ranging from mild to severe, frequent joint subluxation (this is like partial displacement as opposed to full dislocation), fatigue, dizziness, fainting, hives and rashes, flushing of the face, neck, and/or chest, anaphylactic episodes, high heart rate, headaches, migraines, nausea, itching and burning sensations in the skin, pelvic pain, intrusive thoughts (images, sounds, and feelings related to trauma memories that repeatedly pop into my head), flashbacks (the sensation as if the trauma is happening all over again), nightmares, dissociation ("spacing out;" becoming detached and/or disoriented in response to overwhelming distress), difficulty falling and staying asleep, and hypervigilance (constant searching for danger in the environment). I don't use mobility aids every day, but depending on how severe my symptoms are, I at times require use of a cane, forearm crutches, or manual wheelchair. None of my diseases are considered progressive, however, people with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome tend to struggle increasingly with their mobility as they get older, because our fragile joints sustain so much injury and do not heal smoothly. I will probably become more reliant on these aids as I get older.

I am starting this GoFundMe with the hope that it will help me pay the fee to obtain a service dog. I was accepted as a candidate 6 years ago by the organization ECAD (Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities) but I was unable to cover the cost at the time and my acceptance has since expired. I am now reapplying, and applying to other organizations as well, with the hope that this time, I will somehow be able to scrape together the necessary funds.

Not all of the organizations I am applying to have a $25,000 fee; I am also working on an application to CPL (Canine Partners for Life) and SDA (Service Dogs for America), however, I believe ECAD is the most likely to be equipped to meet my needs. Also, their location is by far the closest to where I live, which will make the process of interviewing, matching, and training much easier. If I were ultimately to work with an organization that has a lower fee than however much money I am able to raise via GoFundMe, I intend to do two things with any remaining funds:

1. An extra $2,400 would cover the cost of a Zinger Chair, which would be safer and would provide more independence than my manual wheelchair.

2. Any remaining funds would be donated to whichever service dog organization I work with to "pay it forward" and help future applicants obtain service dogs. Most service dog organizations rely heavily on donations to fill the gap between what clients can afford and the immense cost of meticulously breeding, training, feeding, and housing specialized service dogs for the first 2+ years of their lives, and I think it is a very worthy cause to support.

Thank you so much for reading my story. I appreciate your time and consideration.


***Legally, my first name is Emma, but I go by Adira or Addie. All my art and writing is published using the pseudonym Adira Bennett. I know it can get confusing!

Below are documents pertaining to my diagnoses:

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Adira Koosis
Brooklyn, NY

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