Help Elise move forward with Lucy the Service Dog!

Thank you to everyone taking the time to read this!  

In 2005, our friend, Elise de Groot was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS-previously known as Causalgia and  RSD/Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy). CRPS is an extremely painful, rare, neuro-inflammatory disorder, and one the two of us have in common with Elise. It is because of this common thread that we met, but it was through Elise's kindness, sense of humor and tenacity that we have become friends.  

We are writing this in the hopes to raise money to pay for Elise's own task-trained service dog, Lucy. Our friend works hard to help each of us and so many others in the CRPS community to live better, happier and more meaningful lives, despite our illnesses and/or disabilities. 
Now it is time to send her some much needed help to better her life!

A brief history:
Before Elise’s medical journey with CRPS began, she was a basketball player for Notre Dame De Namur University and graduated with a degree in Psychology. 
Her post-undergrad plans were to play basketball abroad, continue her studies in emergency trauma response and/or counseling and go on to get married and have a family of her own. Unfortunately, she suffered a serious injury to her foot half way through her senior season and was unable to go on and follow these dreams.  Elise had a severe foot injury that caused extreme pain and swelling. This injury went officially undiagnosed until she moved home after graduation, proper x-rays were taken and she was officially diagnosed with a Lis Franc Dislocation-Fracture. Elise was put in a cast and then scheduled for surgery. With surgery came more intractable pain, more swelling, severe lesions, and a host of other unusual symptoms for an injury, even a severe one.  The second surgery to remove the hardware only worsened the condition, and doctors soon diagnosed Elise with RSD/CRPS.

Just what is CRPS?
CRPS is a rare, extremely painful, chronic condition that typically affects an area of the body after an injury.  However, CRPS can be progressive, meaning it can spontaneously spread to anywhere on a person's body, even internal organs. CRPS causes an overactive and inappropriate nervous system response to trauma, causing extreme nervous system reactions—the worst being pain. However, because CRPS is a disease of the nervous system, it can affect anything the nervous system controls and/or regulates.

The pain is constant and severe, and involves a type of hypersensitivity, known as allodonyia, were even the slightest brush of something that shouldn't cause pain (the wind, pants, etc) can be excruciating.  The McGill Pain Questionnaire is a multidimensional assessment of pain and its impact on the patient. The McGill assessment classifies CRPS as the most painful chronic condition that is currently known (higher than kidney stones, childbirth, amputation of a finger without anesthesia, etc.). That level of pain is difficult enough, on its own, in one limb or body part. However, for many, people like Elise, it not only can spread to other parts of the body, but involves much more than just pain.

How does this effect Elise?
In Elise’s case, the CRPS quickly became systemic and spread to the majority of her body, in a relatively short amount of time. She experiences constant outbreaks of painful lesions on the affected areas. Additionally the CRPS has played a role in the development of several co-morbid disorders. The most severe being Adrenal Insufficiency; a disease that is life threatening, life changing and difficult to manage in of itself. The CRPS has spread to her bladder, abdomen, and parts of her rib cage, causing pain, diaphragm spasms, GI issues, and a neurogenic bladder. That latter two requiring her to use enemas and medications to empty her bowels and to self catheterize multiple times a day to empty her bladder. Due to the motor-neural dysfunction related to CRPS, Elise is unable to walk without the use of a mobility aid, and suffers frequent falls.
Elise is also impacted by other malfunctions of the nervous system; cognitive and memory issues, severe chronic fatigue, Dysautonomia, Myofacial Pain Syndrome, and Dystonia. In addition to the Depression and Anxiety that naturally come with this disease, the constant onslaught on her nervous system has left her battling Agoraphobia. And to top it off after an operation was done without proper anesthesia (no numbing at all!) to close an open wound on her CRPS foot  she has also had to cope with PTSD.  In addition to the physical, mental and emotional costs of this disease, it is financially draining. Elise and her family have spent everything they have fighting this disease. Many of the treatments that are helpful are not covered by insurance and the NDNU's catastrophic insurance has yet to pay. Elise and her family have had to fight both private and disability insurance every step of the way.

Life isn't easy for Elise. It is sure not the life she dreamed for herself at 22 years old, when this all started. However, life can get a whole lot better with the help of a task-trained mobility dog named Lucy!


Who is Lucy? And what is a task-trained mobility dog?

Meet Lucy and her trainer, Kelly:

The average cost of a fully-trained service dog costs upwards of $25,000-$40,000, and most organizations have a several year wait list even after funds are raised.  Luckily, there is a local company, Central Coast Dog Services, that works hard to provide fully trained custom service dogs for people like Elise at a fraction of the cost. 

Their head trainer, Kelly Sosa, started training an amazing two-year-old Black Labrador Retriever named Lucy a month ago for service dog work.  Once Lucy’s hip and elbow X-rays came back healthy enough for mobility assistance work, Kelly began custom training Lucy to meet Elise’s needs. 

Lucy is being task- trained to pick up dropped objects, open doors, retrieve the the phone, a cane and even her walker! Lucy will provide deep pressure therapy to Elise’s legs when she experiences tremors and spasms, block people from getting too close and causing Elise pain from brushing up against her, help with balance and giving physical feedback for Elise to know where her legs are in relation to her body. Lucy will be trained to alert her if her legs are facing the wrong direction and/or she is in danger of falling. If she begins to fall, Lucy will be trained to provide a counter balance to help Elise stabilize herself. In the event that a fall can not be prevented, and Elise can not use objects around her to get back up, Lucy will act as Elise’s brace dog to help her get back up.  

Beyond the specific tasks, Lucy will provide Elise with confidence to go out, do more things and be more mobile!  And perhaps, most importantly, Lucy will be a source of love and joy for Elise!


Sounds great, but what will this cost?
The projected cost of Lucy, including training, vet care, and supplies over the next two years,  is roughly $12,552.94. This is much cheaper than getting a service dog from most organizations. However, it is still more than Elise and her family can handle on their own. 

Here is the  breakdown of the projected costs for Lucy:

Adoption Fee - $200
Service Dog Finding Fee - $300
Initial Board/Training Cost - 10wks = $4,550
Training Sessions with Elise - twice a week for 10wks = $900
Follow-Up Refresher Training Cost - 10hr sessions = $450
Food - $40 per month x 24months = $960
Treats - $20 per month x 24months = $480
Dog Bed - $33
Food - $40 per month x 24months = $960
Crate - $148 on 
Leash - $15
Collar - $15 
Shampoo - $16 per bottle
Furminator Brush - $46
XL Gentle Leader - $30
Vest - $110
Bracing Harness - $165
Saddle bag pack: $34.99
Saddle bag patch: “emergency medication inside”: $14.95
Dog Tags - $15
Poop Bags - $6 per month x 24 months = $144
X-Rays of hips and elbows- $500
NexGuard - $22 per month x24 months = $528
Heartguard - $12 per month x24 months = $288
New patient Vet visit: $75
Vet Wellness Check: $75
Removal of  broken tooth: $1500

PROJECTED TOTAL:  $12,552.94

Why contribute to this GoFundMe?
Elise is one of the most determined and hardworking people we know. If you know anything about Elise and her life the past 14 years, it is that she has done everything she reasonably can to take care of and heal her mind and body. She has  tried nearly every treatment- holistic and traditional, that are available to fight the CRPS and other health conditions she has. Elise  works hard every day to maintain as much function as possible and believes if she keeps working hard, her body will heal. Lucy can help Elise achieve this!!

Elise spends what energy she has volunteering for a wonderful children’s program, Tri-Ling Kids.  A small community program, where she is adored and appreciated by the parents, teachers and students. Elise pours her heart into supporting people like us; people in the CRPS community who also struggle with this horrible disease. She shares her experiences and the research and knowledge she's gained over the years to help others find their own path to healing.  In order to support friends and family, she pushes herself past what most people even without this illness would do. Most importantly, through it all and with limited support, she has never given up and encourages others like us to keep pushing—that no matter what our circumstances, we can all find happiness and live a life of purpose.


How can you help?

We are asking for you to support Elise, like she supports others, by contributing what you can to this GoFundMe. Any amount, no matter how small will help!! 

We can't do anything to make up for the years she's lost to CRPS and all its complications, but by helping her pay for and train Lucy, we can make a huge difference and give Elise true hope for a brighter future! 


Thank you!!!!!
Thank you for taking the time to read this and for doing what you can to help Elise and Lucy become a team!!!

With love and appreciation,
Jamie and Jennifer

***We are hoping to reach our goal, but would love to surpass it! Any additional funds will be placed in a Special Needs Trust Account for Elise. These funds will then go to pay for future vet care, supplies, additional task-training for Lucy, and/or any other future service dog needs.

Want more Information?

If you are interested in learning more about Elise & Lucy or CentralCoast Dog Services, feel free to reach out!

For more information on CRPS:

CRPS 101:   v=v66YHyZNPUE Education/Fact-Sheets/Complex-Regional-Pain-Syndrome-Fact-Sheet

For more information on mobility and brace dogs and the amazing, life changing things they can do:



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Elise de Groot 
San Luis Obispo, CA
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