Sign In

Boy In Need Of Seizure Dog

August 31, 2020

An Old Saybrook woman reached new heights this month, climbing the highest peak in the northeastern United States, Mount Washington. But Paige Marinelli’s path to topping more than 6,200 feet was even more impressive because of whom she climbed for and what she’s been through.

“There was a point where I would’ve never been able to do that,” Paige said.

Paige, now 26, was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 10. After college, her seizures got worse so at 23, she chose to have surgery.

“I had four craniotomies in a month, and they removed a piece of my brain that was causing seizures, and I’ve been seizure free for over thee years,” she told News 12. The recovery was long, but worth it. “My life has improved so much.”

That made Paige want to help others struggling with their health. In January, she began leading an epilepsy support group, which Trumbull mom Jennifer Colello joined a few months later.

Jennifer’s 5-year-old son Andrew loves, puppies, wrestling, and superheroes–plus anything his big brother, Trey, does. Andrew has epilepsy, with seizures that increased in intensity this year. He also was born with the most severe form of spina bifida.

“He had to have a lesion, a very large lesion, closed on his spine at just a day old,” explained Jennifer.

Andrew uses a walker, wears ankle-foot orthotics, and does physical therapy four times a week. His parents always dreamed of another form of help–a service dog trained to detect seizures.

“A dog would be able to give him the independence to sleep on his own,” said Jennifer. “It would be able to alert us to things I’m sure we’re already probably missing.”

A dog would also help with Andrew’s stability while walking, but it wasn’t an option right now.

“Knowing how expensive they were, we never thought we’d be able to afford it on our own,” Andrew’s dad, Richard Colello, said.

Then, came a plan from the young woman who’d become a source of support for Jennifer in recent months.

“I got a phone call from Paige saying, ‘You know, I’ve always wanted to climb Mount Washington. I want to do this for Andrew, I want to do this in Andrew’s honor.”

Paige would climb for a cause, raising money to get Andrew his dog.

“Here she is a mom–just like my mom–going through raising a child with epilepsy. How could I not extend my heart to her?” Paige told News 12.

“I was just like dumbfounded in the beginning,” remembered Jennifer. “It seemed too good to be true.”

The fundraising campaign quickly reached–then surpassed its goal. It was up to $24,000 when Paige and her team set off from the base of Mount Washington on Aug. 15.

“It was exhausting and challenging, but it was so worth it in every way,” Paige said. “It was really beautiful and meaningful, and I guess every step meant something. When I did get to the top, I sat down and I had this moment of ‘look at what we just did?!'”

Paige said Andrew was there with her in spirit the entire way up. He was also there in-person at the bottom of the mountain. The Colellos made the drive up to New Hampshire to celebrate Paige completing the climb.

“We had flowers ready for her. Andrew gave them to her,” said Jennifer.

“It was definitely a moment of connection and everyone was just so happy. There’s definitely no question about us being friends for life now,” Paige said.

“I cannot thank her enough for the gift she gave us and our family. Andrew’s going to grow by leaps and bounds with this service puppy. I truly believe that,” Richard told News 12.

The Colellos have been accepted into a service dog program for 2022. Jennifer says it’s a little ways off, but it will be worth the wait. As for Paige, she plans to continue to be an advocate for people with epilepsy and do a new challenge every year to raise money and awareness.

Register Your Dog

  • Most Recent News

    Students Get Therapy Dog

    When middle school students return to class on Jan. 11, they’ll find a new face at the door: Daisy. Daisy is a therapy dog and the personal pet of Rob Kreger, principal of the Rock L. Butler Middle School. The five-year-old golden retriever is not a school pet or mascot, but rather a working dog […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dogtor

    Last March, Caroline Benzel, a third-year medical student, began to notice the stress and discomfort her nurse friends were feeling from the pressures of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. “[Personal protective equipment] can be really rough on the skin,” Benzel, 31, tells PEOPLE. Benzel and her 3-year-old Rottweiler, Loki (who’s also a therapy dog) hatched a […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog Pups

    When Stanley the miniature fox terrier’s owner passed away, the little dog started a ‘paw-some’ new role – bringing puppy love to some of the Gold Coast’s oldest residents. After Carinity Cedarbrook Diversional Therapist Julianne Staff adopted Stanley, he began visiting the aged care community at Mudgeeraba as a therapy dog. Therapy dogs help to […]

    Read more

    Puppy Cams

    A nonprofit is providing an unusual form of therapy for those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic – puppy cams! “You spend five minutes with a puppy and try not to smile,” said registered nurse Robin Lingg Lagrone. Lingg Lagrone says watching little furballs wag their tails and prance on their paws helps […]

    Read more

    Pet Committee

    When Moore County’s school doors were abruptly closed earlier in 2020, two- and four-legged volunteers from the Moore County Citizens’ Pet Responsibility Committee (PRC) were in their 12th year of presenting a six-session Pet Responsibility Education Program for fourth-graders. The PRC quickly shifted gears and placed its program materials online as part of a home […]

    Read more

    The Right Rescue Dog

    If your New Year’s resolution is to add a canine family member, good for you. Somewhere out there is the perfect puppy or adult dog for your family. You have a lot of things to think about when you begin to look for that new family member, puppy or dog? Large or small? Purebred or […]

    Read more