Nova’s Service Dog Training

Hi, My name is Sierra Thornton, and I have postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). My sophomore year of high school I fainted while doing a presentation in class. I was taken to the emergency room and they told me it could have been my period that caused it and sent me home. Almost five years later and I’m still passing out. I was sent to multiple doctors, and I did not get an official diagnosis until my senior year of high school. They diagnosed me with POTS Syndrome. This chronic illness can affect thousands of people from very mild symptoms to severe symptoms. Unfortunately, I’m on the severe symptoms side. I have fainting spells frequently and they can last from 5 minutes to 14 hours. I have a long list of other symptoms including dizziness, brain fog, anxiety, chronic pain, headaches, etc. the list goes on and on. I’m now a junior at Stephen F. Austin State University. My POTS has caused me to lose all of my independence. I cannot do what regular college students do, because of my passing out. I have passed out in class, outside, my professor’s offices, etc. Just about everywhere on campus that you can think of. There have been days where other students take pictures of me passed out and put those pictures of me on various social media sites. Most days after I wake up from an episode I get up and continue on. If I’m in class I go and sit in my seat and try to ignore my peers staring at me. If I’m outside I reassure the crowd around me that I’m fine and go to wherever I was headed. Those are the good day. On the bad days, my professors call my boyfriend who has to leave class to come and get me. He’s carried me across campus back to my room while I’m out (i weigh 186 lbs btw) and he puts me in bed. He’s argued with EMS to leave me alone, because they always insist that I need to go to the hospital. He’s been my rock for almost four years. There have been days where I physically cannot get out of bed, because I cannot stay awake long enough to do anything. When I get to class I have to text my mom and let her know that I’m sitting down, if she doesn’t hear from me within five minutes of my class starting she starts calling all of my friends and my boyfriend to come to my class and check on me to make sure I haven’t passed out. Nine times out of ten she’s right and I’m passed out in class or somewhere near my class.
My doctors have been working with me for years to try to make my fainting spells less frequent, and make life at school a little more manageable. Nothing they’ve tried has worked so far.
I have a beautiful support system, they all motivate me to keep going everyday. My mom, boyfriend, friends, and mentors give me an endless amount of support even on the hardest days. They’re all so understanding, and they do their absolute best to help me, and make sure that I have everything that I need.
A very good friend of mine recently gave me a German Shepherd puppy, because he saw how much I was struggling while being sick and in college. My puppy Nova is being trained as a service dog to help me gain some independence, and make my day to day life a little easier. She’s being trained for my POTS, anxiety, and depression. Unfortunately service dog training is a little expensive for a chronically ill college student who’s not allowed to work. If you could find it in your heart to donate for Nova’s training it would mean the world to me. Even if you can’t donate, a simple share would also be greatly appreciated!
Sierra T.


  • Anita Vanouwerkerk
    • $100 
    • 6 yrs

Organizer and beneficiary

Lynne Kaska
Converse, TX
Sierra Thornton

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