Boy seeks very special dog
Published in Herald & Tribune Nov. 5, 2014 issue
A young boy who had his first seizure at 11 months old is in need of the community’s support to help his family raise money for a seizure response dog.
Misty Royston, said her son Justin, who is now 8 years old, had his first seizure at a graduation party a friend of theirs was having before he was a year old. She said she knew instantly what was happening because of a family member who has epilepsy.
After he was taken to the hospital, the doctors said they would keep a close eye on him and see what happens. He was diagnosed with epilepsy and has Tonic Clonic seizures, also known as grand-mal seizures.
Misty said Justin has always had extended seizures that last anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes, which always results in a visit to the emergency room.
When Justin was 3 years old he began taking speech pathology, which he still continues today because of the affects his epilepsy has had on his brain.
The young Sulphur Springs School 3rd grade student is now on medication to help with the seizures.
The family travels to Child Neurology Services in Knoxville twice a year for check-ups and testing because it is the closest pediatric neurologists. Once a year, Justin has an EEG test done to monitor his brain’s electrical activity.
In July, the test showed an increase in abnormal activity in Justin’s brain while he is sleeping, which has raised some concerns. The doctor had asked Misty if she had noticed any jerking or twitching while Justin was sleeping. Misty said she had not because she too was sleeping.
“They don’t make equipment to alert us if he has one in his sleep,” Misty said of his seizures.
After hearing of the results, Misty had a conversation with her friend who has a diabetic alert service dog for her son. She said her friend encouraged her to look into getting a service dog for Justin.
“I think I spent weeks on the computer looking at different organizations seeing the benefit,” Misty said.
Through the research, she stumbled upon Dan Warren of Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers. Having a service dog would keep Justin safe, as well as notify someone to get medicine if needed.
After signing a contract with the nonprofit organization, the family was placed on a six to eight month waiting list.
Misty said the organization tailors a Labrador puppy specifically to Justin’s needs. The specific tailoring is made possible by the family filling out a questionnaire regarding Justin’s activities, hobbies, how he deals with school and how receptive he is to everything going on around him.
The Royston’s have to raise $25,000 to obtain a service dog. The price tag includes the dog, training and travel expenses for the trainer to come to Jonesborough. Once the family receives a dog, they will receive a full week’s training.
“Once the dog is placed with us we receive two years of additional training,” Misty said.
The family began their fundraising efforts in September and has raised $5,000 for the service dog.
“We have received a lot of support,” she said from the community.
The support has come from local businesses, individuals, several anonymous donations and fundraisers.
The 3 Minute Ultimate Shine Car Wash, located in Johnson City and Greeneville, is donating 30 percent of each car wash when individuals use the promo code 899 until Nov. 20.
Lollipop Shop and Ruby Tuesdays is also donating a percentage of the sales when customers show a flyer until Nov. 20.
For more information about the flyers, send Misty an email at Royston137@gmail.com.
The next fundraising event will take place at Capone’s in Johnson City on Saturday, Nov. 22, at 8 p.m. The benefit concert will feature Bonnie Blue and Southern Rebellion. There is a $5 minimum cover charge.
To follow Justin’s story and fundraising efforts, like his Facebook page “Your Change Can Make a Change for Justin.”
“Justin is very excited,” Misty said. “I don’t think he fully understands everything 100 percent, but he knows he is getting a puppy that is all his and is supposed to help him and watch over him.”
Individuals can also make a donation at http://sdwr.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.personalCampaign&participantID=1641.