Basalt High School softball coach seeks training for her service dog after diagnosis
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Willow Stolley, a college softball player from Glenwood Springs, was diagnosed with epilepsy about a month ago.
“I’ve had four diagnosed (traumatic brain injuries) and a lot of minor concussions,” she said. “I was playing softball at Agnes Scott College. The last TBI, I was base running, and there was a collision between me and the catcher. I hit my head on the ground.”
There are many theories as to why Stolley developed epilepsy, including the TBIs, minor concussions, and genetics. She explained the more brain injuries she had lowered her seizure capacity — or the tolerance of her body to not have seizures.
“Sometimes, minor absence seizures can look like I’m spacing out, but in grand mal seizures, my speech will be slurred, my arms and legs stop moving, and I basically turn into a porcelain doll,” she said. “Within the last two years, I was having a seizure every six months, but in the last three months, they’ve gone up to once a week.”
That was when Stolley went to the doctor and obtained her diagnosis.
About a year ago, she adopted Georgia, a golden doodle, with the intent of training her to be a psychological support dog. Stolley had panic attacks and wanted Georgia to be able to alert her before they set in. This changed with the epilepsy diagnosis.
“It turns out the panic attacks were actually more likely seizure episodes,” she said. “I also have consistent, horrible stomach bugs once a week, and those are more likely to be GI seizures.”
She explained that seizures can happen in the GI and esophageal tracts, heart, or brain; they’re not limited to one part of the body. She found out after looking up her illness.
Stolley eventually wants to go back to college but training Georgia would be a hefty fee, around $20,000. This number includes training equipment like a harness, treats, and Georgia’s health. Stolley started a GoFundMe for Georgia’s training.
“I’d be in debt for the next four years of college,” she said, explaining why she had the fundraiser. “Also, any extra funds I get will be donated back to people who need service dog training.”
She’s using Endless Pawsibilities Dog Training and Services located in Aspen.
“I’m hoping to get back into college after Georgia is done training,” she said. “I was pre-med, but now I’m a pre-vet, and I want to be an equine veterinarian on a ranch. Hopefully my own. I haven’t decided whether I want it in Colorado or Georgia yet.”
If anyone would like to donate to Stolley’s cause, visit gofundme.com/f/willow-and-georgia-afford-service-dog-training?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=unknown&utm_campaign=comms_wly3+willow-and-georgia-afford-service-dog-training. As of Sept. 28, she’s raised around $5,000.