This story has a dog named Saber and the teenager who named him. To her, he's her "Life Saber".
At fourteen, Gracie Bowman will soon begin her freshman year at McDonald County High School.
It's a rite of passage shared by teens across the country but for Gracie, it's more.
As she prepares for a new school year like any other teen, she's also anticipating the long awaited service dog who will become her partner in many ways. After a two-year wait for a service dog, she will soon have Saber,.
"This is the puppy's name chosen by our daughter, Gracie to be her Service Dog," Gracie's mom, Danea Key said. "Gracie chose this name over 2 years ago because it means so much to her. "Saber", to her means, "Lifesaver" because she feels that he will have saved her life. Throughout her life, Gracie has undergone many tests and has a list of diagnoses that have changed our families' life"
Gracie's medical journey began at birth. Severe jaundice kept her in the hospital for an additional 9 days. Her parents, Joel and Danea Key, would late realize that she demonstrated signs of hyper-sensory issues from the time they brought her home.
"When our daughter Gracie was born," Key remembered "She was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen."
They realized their daughter also had hyper-sensory issues from the time they brought her home. By the age of ten months, Gracie was meeting some development milestones but not all.
"As Gracie got older, we started noticing more and more that she was unable to hold a full cup, keep food on her fork or spoon when feeding herself. She couldn't use fine motor skills," Key said. "As a parent, watching her be emotionally disconnected with family and friends. She wanted more and more alone time. Gracie would get frustrated and just give up instead of asking for help. She wanted so much to be independent and do things for herself but she was just not able."
They received a diagnosis - essential tremors. Medications were added, stopped and dosages one existing medications were increased
In addition to Essential Tremors, Gracie has also been diagnosed with autism, PTSD, Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder and many legs from the Essential Tremor including anxiety, social anxiety, restless leg syndrome and insomnia.
The diagnosis was the first miracle - the second came when Gracie was in middle school. Her science teacher brought her son's service dog to school for a visit. A bond between Gracie and the dog was evident almost immediately, providing help with anxiety and depression, helping her get through a school day.
Her teacher approached the family and told them they wanted to give Gracie a puppy who could become a service dog. Two years later, that dream is about to be realized - but some help from the community is needed.
In 2018, Gracie underwent Deep Brain Stimulation surgery, a step that has brought about positive change. Now, according to her mom, the best is coming and that's Saber.
Gracie has to wait for Saber to get old enough to come home and to start training.
"Saber's service dog training is extremely through to b the partner that Gracie needs," Key said. "Service dog training is also extremely expensive."
Funding is needed so that Gracie - and Saber - can take this next important step.
"As a family, we want to open eyes to the area that there are more people like Gracie in need and we as a community need to come together to help one another to better ourselves as a whole."
To make a donation toward Saber's training, visit https://www.supportful.com/gracie-needs-a-life-saber?