TOMBALL, Texas — A Houston-area family set to welcome home a new member: a service dog with one important mission: helping keep their 15-year-old daughter alive. And it's all possible thanks to the kindness of strangers.
For 15 years, Heather O'Harra's had a pit in her stomach and fear in her heart everytime she put her daughter to sleep.
"It's been a very difficult 15 years," O'Harra said.
Her daughter Kayley lives with a genetic disorder. It first came to light at a few months old when she suffered her first seizure. If no one's around to help at night, they can be deadly. They relied on cameras and little sleep to keep Kayley alive.
"First thing I do in the morning as a mother is check to make sure my daughter is still breathing," O'Harra said.
Through Doggie Does Good, a nonprofit in California, the family applied for a one-of-a-kind service dog to be by Kayley's side. But there was a problem.
"Then they said, 'Here's your quote,'" O'Harra said. "'Your estimate is going to be $38,000.' I was in shock."
With no way to pay, Kayley's family turned to online fundraising, not knowing what to expect.
"People were donating $25, $50. A stranger donated $1,000," O'Harra said. "We got to $15,000 in 30 days."
Family, friends, companies, law firms and complete strangers took care of the rest. It took six months, and Friday, they crossed that $38,000 finish line.
"I'm so humbled by people's compassion, especially during these hard, difficult times," O'Harra said. "People really wanted this dog for Kayley."
Vinny is the 6-month-old Labradoodle who will change this family's life.
"Vinny will sleep in the bed with Kayley," O'Harra said.
Vinny starts training in October. When it's over, he'll be able to watch over Kayley and if needed help save her life.
"This dog can detect through sense of smell a seizure and basically send us a text message. It's just amazing," said Carl O'Harra, her father.
So many people have been touched by Kayley's story, there are still people wanting to donate. One woman has offered to pay for one full year's worth of dog food for Vinny.
All in all, more than 200 donors made the impossible, possible.
"To think I can sleep peacefully and feel like she's protected at night, it's something I never thought would happen," Heather O'Harra said.
Vinny's a life-changing gift that will be the newest member of their family in 8 short months.
"I already tear up thinking when the trainer will pull up the driveway with our dog," Heather O'Harra said. "I can't wait to see his face in person."