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Epileptic Hasbrouck Heights girl getting service dog, thanks to ‘special angels’

Photo Credit: Courtesy Hasbrouck Heights Police Chief Michael Colaneri
Photo Credit: Courtesy Hasbrouck Heights Police Chief Michael Colaneri

SHOUT OUT: An epileptic Hasbrouck Heights girl who suffers from constant seizures will be getting the service dog she needs, thanks to the dedication of several borough police officers and the generosity of many who have donated more than $10,000 to make it happen.

Six-year-old Marybeth Barrios was gliding across the floor of the Hasbrouck Heights VFW Hall in her purple dress and sandals Sunday afternoon, during a sold-out pasta dinner that helped boost the total.

“I cried all day,” her mother, Tricia O’Brien Barrios, told CLIFFVIEW PILOT. “But it was a good cry.

“This is going to change her life.”

For one thing, it will allow Marybeth to play without being watched and sleep in her own bed instead of with her mother. Besides alerting others when she’s having a seizure, a service dog could do deep pressure massage to pull the youngster out of an anxiety attack. It would also increase her sense of self-reliance and independence, which is extremely important at this stage.

It’s been a tough stretch for Marybeth, who has received various types of therapy since she was 10 months old for epilepsy and chromosomal deletion, a genetic disorder. She recently had two 4-day video EEGs done of her brain. All showed several seizures a day.

Later this year, Barrios will fly with her and her older sister to San Diego, where they will train for a week to 10 days at Little Angels Service Dogs. The donations received will help cover the cost of airfare, lodging, training and what will be the newest addition to the family.

Now all that’s left is to prepare the dog.

“The training last seven hours a day,” Barrios said. “Then we’ll have to pass three different tests before we graduate.”

Barrios thanked Hasbrouck Heights Police Chief Michael Colaneri, his wife, Brenda, and daughter, Lisa, as well as Officer Joseph Rinke, among many “special angels” who she said worked tirelessly to stage not only the pasta dinner but raffles and other fundraisers.

“There are so many who did so much,” she said.

Barrios said she also posted a CLIFFVIEW PILOT story about Marybeth’s situation “all over Facebook,” and donations “immediately started coming in.”

All of Marybeth’s life, she said, “I tried to shield her from it all. So it was kind of like a Catch-22 to put a story out there.”

SEE: Service dog could be someone to watch over epileptic Hasbrouck Heights girl

During Sunday’s event, however, “she finally understood the magnitude of it,” Barrios said. “My father said he’d never seen his granddaughter so happy.”

More than 200 people packed into the VFW Hall.

“I was completely overwhelmed,” Barrios said. “You can’t even put it into words.”

“This event could not have been a success without our dedicated and motivated volunteers,” added Colaneri, the Hasbrouck Heights chief. “We are also grateful to all of our donors and our local businesses that supported this cause.”

Barrios said she thought “if we got halfway there, it would be amazing…. But this is unreal.”

The tough part now is waiting. It could be another six months – seven, at most – before Marybeth can go get her dog.

“We’re hoping sooner than later,” her mother said.

Marybeth (fourth from left), Tricia O’Brien Barrios (fourth from right) PHOTO: Courtesy Hasbrouck Heights Police Chief Michael Colaneri


Hasbrouck Heights Police
PBA 102 / Marybeth Barrios
248 Hamilton Avenue
Hasbrouck Heights, NJ  07604

ATTENTION: Joanne Inglesby

Or call Inglesby (HHPD): (201) 288-6019


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