Florida Or Bust!

Hey Internet!! I wanted to stop by today to talk about something really important to me.

Let’s start with a story:

Once upon a time a little girl named Lisa was accepted into a special program for smart kids. She picked up everything and went to a new school for fourth grade and was super scared. To make matters even scarier for shy little Lisa, it was the first time she would be riding the bus to school.

So she put on a really unfortunate dress and got on the bus and was super scared and barely talked to anyone.

Seriously. It is a miracle I ever made any friends.

Seriously. It is a miracle I ever made any friends.

Lucky for Lisa, she ended up on the same bus as a super nice, super cool little girl named Katie.

Unlucky for Lisa, there was another girl named Lisa in her class, and since her name was technically Elizabeth and the other girl was actually named Lisa,  Elizabeth-Lisa had to choose a different name because her teacher wasn’t going to let them go by Lisa T. and Lisa P. (this is a completely true story y’all) So fake-Lisa took on the name Liz (and her parents were PISSED. Seriously – they nick named her Lisa because of their mutual disdain for the name Liz. True. Life. Facts).

With a new name came new friends, and Liz and Katie quickly became the best of bus buddies. They would tell stories and make the smaller kids on the bus do their bidding, Liz was painfully shy and lived in constant fear of embarrassing herself, but Katie never made her feel bad. They would play fun bus games (jump up and down while the bus goes over the railroad tracks anybody?!?! Who remembers that classic?!) and riding the bus was always made better because Liz had an awesome bus friend.

I kind of love this picture because it totally captures the first stages of my friendship with Katie. Just hanging out. On a bus.

I kind of love this picture because it totally captures the first stages of my friendship with Katie. Just hanging out. On a bus.

Liz and Katie were in the same class and on the same bus from 4th to 6th grade. During that time they got to know each other. Katie was super smart. She had way more siblings than Liz could imagine (3. So far. There were more coming.) She also learned that things at home weren’t great for Katie. Her parents were divorced and neither of them were super good at the whole-parenting thing. Basically, her mother was crazy.

What Liz didn’t know was just how bad things at home were for Katie. Behind the scenes Katie was suffering some extreme emotional abuse in her mom and step-dad’s house.

Liz and Katie went to the same middle school and high school. They fell in with different groups of friends, but were still in most of the same classes and the bus buddy bond was never broken.

Every so often Liz would learn a new detail of Katie’s home life, and it seemed as if things were not getting any better. Actually they seemed to be getting worse. Their senior year of high school Katie moved out of her mom’s house and moved in with her dad. This was much needed, but things didn’t necessarily get better. Her crazy mom was still crazy and still doing her best to make Katie’s life a nightmare.

But Katie kept it together and graduated and went to the University of Illinois (with Liz!).


U of I Times

U of I Times

What Katie had hoped would be the end of the nightmare, didn’t turn out to be all sunshine and rainbows. The years of abuse had taken their toll. She threw herself into her school work and her job, but it became increasingly difficult for her to socialize or even leave her apartment. Her junior year she was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Liz and Katie continued to hang out each other, (they even took a trip to Florida together!) but it became harder and harder for Katie to do anything. She got a dog (Zeke!) to act as an emotional service dog, but after she graduated it became clearer and clearer that she needed something more.

Christmas Times!Tigger!!

She decided she needed a fully trained PTSD Service Dog that she could take with her in public and to work. At first Katie was going to try to train Zeke to be her service dog, but as time went on it become clear that Zeke was better suited as a pet.

ZEKE! Look at that face!!

ZEKE! Look at that face!!

But service dogs cost money. A LOT of money. (As much as $10,000 – $25,000!!!!!) In March of last year Katie started a Go Fund Me campaign to raise money to get and train a service dog. She found an amazing organization who breed service dogs and agreed to provide her with a puppy. Enter Service Dog in Training Phoenix.

Phoenix Puppy!!!

Phoenix Puppy!!!

Katie raised $3300 and was able to bring Phoenix home. She has been working hard to train Phoenix, but again she needs to raise some money.

Phoenix still needs more training. Katie needs to go to Florida for 3-6 weeks to work with a trainer to complete Phoenix’s training. So I am asking you on this here blog to please visit Katie’s site. Read her story in her words. Watch the video she put together. Share her story. And please consider giving.

She is growing so fast!!

She is growing so fast!!

Katie is by far the strongest person I have ever met. She has overcome so much and somehow managed to come out on the other side with an amazingly kind heart. I count myself lucky to have her as a friend. If all goes as planned, I will have the pleasure of driving with Katie to Florida again this summer. (Lucky for me because of Katie and Florida. Unlucky for Katie because I am the WORLDS WORST road trip buddy. I’m sorry Katie. I promise I will try my very hardest to stay awake and keep you company! We may need to buy ALL THE COFFEE).

So, if you are able please consider helping Katie get to Florida. We will need money for gas, and a hotel on the way down.  Katie will also need money for outings, because taking Phoenix out in public is an important part of her training.

Like I did last time, I am making a pledge to send anybody who gives to Katie’s fundraiser a nice batch of homemade cookies! So if you give, please let me know by commenting on this post and emailing me your address (babygotba@gmail.com).

So there’s that Internet. I hope you are having a wonderful day, and thank you for taking your time to read this. It’s really important to me.

10 Responses to Florida Or Bust!

  1. Richard says:

    I will take care of the hotel in Atlanta for your trip to Florida.

  2. Katie says:

    Thanks Mr. T! Somehow I think you will be entertained by me calling you Mr. T <3

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