There’s nothing worse than hurting someone, or something, you love.
When I was young, my mom and my brother were horsing around in our living room when all of a sudden, “POP!” In the midst of a serious tickle session, my mom actually popped my brother’s arm out of socket. It was no one’s fault, but I can’t imagine how she felt afterwards.
Scrolling through Facebook the other day, I came across a GoFundMe page started by our beloved Stephanie Jallen. When I first clicked on it, I assumed she was trying to raise money for one of her adventures around the globe on the ski slopes. This time, Stephanie needs our help for something completely different.
For those of you who don’t know, Stephanie is a remarkable young lady. The 2014 Wyoming Area graduate won two bronze medals at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Russia.
She was born with a rare birth defect called CHILDS, Congenital Hemidysplasia with Ichthyosiform Erythroderma and Limb Defects Syndrome. CHILDS is a chromosomal disorder that affects the entire left side of the body, leaving Jallen with only one leg and one fully developed arm.
She certainly doesn’t let it bother her. Jallen won the bronze medal in the super-G and super combined at the Paralympics.
Stephanie is now sophomore at King’s College. Because of Stephanie’s condition, she has a service dog named Parker to help her get around. Parker is a one-and-a-half-year-old Shiloh Shepherd.
“I needed a dog strong enough to carry the weight and strong enough to carry me,” Stephanie said. “I always loved shepherds.”
A week ago, however, Stephanie and Parker were having a fun game of fetch. Stephanie threw Parker’s tennis ball across the yard. That’s when the untinkable happened. Parker got caught in the metal cable wire from one of his runs and it wrapped around his hind leg. The cable had severed his Achilles tendon and two major arteries.
Parker is currently in a cast that needs to be changed daily to prevent infection and is also on pain killers and antibiotics. It’s quite ironic that Parker now hops around on one leg, much like Stephanie does herself.
Parker returned home from the Northeast Veterinary Referral Hospital in Plains on Monday after being there over the weekend. Stephanie takes Parker down to the hospital at 8 a.m. every morning to get his cast changed.
“It has definitely taken a toll on me and my family,” Stephanie said. “Everyone is praying for him.”
While at Wyoming Area, Stephanie was to have a service dog but that fell through. She made it through high school without a dog. But now, at King’s, Parker is imperative to Stephanie’s success.
“He carries my books and he’s still learning to get things off the ground for me,” she said. “It’s been rough without him, but all of my professors are saints.”
Through it all, however, Stephanie and Parker now need our help to offset medical bills because of the accident. She said the four-day stay in the veterinary clinic has cost $4,500, and it will continue to rise as Parker’s therapy continues. Stephanie is now a full-time student at King’s and takes care of all her own financial needs.
Because Parker is a service dog, he gets 20 percent off all his medical bills. Stephanie said that has been a huge help.
We’ve all been through the loss of a loved one. Most of us have even dealt with losing a precious animal. I know firsthand what it’s like to be in that position. Thank goodness, Parker is not in that situation but he still needs our help. He’s Stephanie’s lifeline most of the time while she’s studying business management at King’s. And although we’ve known Stephanie to have the most upbeat spirit imaginable, I can’t imagine what she’s going through.
Stephanie is still training on the slopes. She will be leaving on Sunday to train in Aspen, Colorado. Stephanie said Parker will get his cast completely removed in six to eight weeks before starting physical therapy to help rebuild his muscle.
“This is one of the most traumatic experiences I’ve ever had,” Stephanie said.
To help offset the costs for Parker’s medical bills, Stephanie has set up a GoFundMe page. So far, a good amount of money has been raised, but Parker still needs us. To donate, visit https://www.gofundme.com/xf98dyy4.
Get well soon, Parker!