[Meredith] was 11 when doctors diagnosed her with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a genetic connective tissue disorder that causes joint hypermobility and chronic pain in the limbs and joints.
For those with EDS, sudden movements can mean a dislocated shoulder. Sneezing can pop a rib out of place. And there’s the pain, a deep-throbbing ache like fibromyalgia that never goes away.
The pain and dislocations have forced Meredith, an eighth-grader at Riverside Middle School, to replace basketball and competitive swimming with trips to specialists, physical therapy, pain medication, wheelchairs, casts and slings.
“There’s been good days and bad days,” Meredith said. “There’s a lot of things that normal kids would do — like go to high school football games and things like that — that can be difficult for me.”
Three years ago, only close friends and family knew about Meredith’s diagnosis until the Butenhoffs learned about Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services, or PAALS.
Based in Columbia, the nonprofit group trains service dogs for clients ranging from the wheelchair-bound to children with autism and disabled veterans.
For Meredith, who can get dizzy just standing up, a service dog would mean a constant companion that could carry her books at school, help her open doors and support her while she walks.
We encourage readers with the resources to help to visit http://www.helpmeredith.com.
“This dog will really be personalized to Meredith to be exactly what she needs,” said her mother, Tracy Butenhoff.
A special note to both the Gannett, the publisher of the Greenville News. This is an instance where your new subscription paywall inhibits your ability to nationalize your story. Limiting the "readers comments" to subscribers only, restricts the ability of readers outside of your area from helping to support a worthy cause. Few people will subscribe to the online version of a newspaper if they are far outside the local area. The Complainer makes a really good argument that Gannett's national paywall initiative is doomed to failure.