'I'm in this town's debt for the rest of my life'
WHITE SALMON, Wash. - A Washington man has a new lease on life thanks to people in this small community coming together for a big mission.
Friends of Bill Ward, who suffers from post-traumatic seizure disorder, raised thousands of dollars for a life-changing canine to help him overcome his seizures.
"I've been knocked out over 24 times. I've had almost 100 concussions," he says. "It started back in football and then rodeo; and I've fallen off some poles. I was a lineman - telephone technician."
The seizures come upon him a couple times a week. They hit without warning and don't allow him to work, drive a car or go far from home.
"Just over a year and a half ago I started having what are very similar to grand mal seizures. I have no forewarning. I just go down," Ward says.
But now thanks to an 85-pound, year-old English Labrador retriever named Barley, life is getting a little easier for Ward.
"It was pretty intensive. We had to really get to know each other, and I had to learn - he already knew what he was doing, but I had to learn what I was doing," he says.
Getting Barley wasn't easy though. The cost for the service dog was more than $20,000. After Ward sent an email to a friend, word got out.
"It was kind of a fire, it just spread all over the place," says Lorrie Knowles who helped raise money for Barley. "I didn't realize that people had donated that much money. I'm just so gratified. It's just amazing to me."
In just two months White Salmon residents and businesses raised enough money for Ward's life-changing dog.
The pair has only been working together for three weeks, but it only took Barley one day to recognize a seizure was about to hit Ward.
"We were just sitting there, and he was lying on the floor half asleep and he just jumped up started jumping all over me," Ward says.
Now Barley is giving Ward a taste of freedom again.
"Yeah it's incredible. I'm in this town's debt for the rest of my life. It's going to change my life considerably," he says. "It already has."
Ward spent two weeks in San Diego training with Barley. Since being home, Ward has had five seizures, and every time Barley has alerted him 18 minutes before they've happened.