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Ballwin woman's mission to help raise money for those in need of service dogs

Katie Harris has a rare disease, but her service dog Moxie, makes a big difference in her life.

BALLWIN, Mo. — The best therapists have four legs.

No one knows that better than Katie Harris. Her dog Moxie never leaves her side.

"I always wanted a Goldendoodle ever since my dad and stepmom had one. I just fell in love with the breed," she said.

Goldendoodles are known for being intelligent and affectionate but as Katie can attest, in addition to a collar, Moxie should also be wearing a cape.

Harris was an athlete growing up, playing all kinds of sports, especially tennis. But there was a problem.

"I always was getting hurt and we never knew what it really was," she said.

Soon, she was spending more time on crutches than on the court. The reason why, didn't come until years later.

"I finally got diagnosed at the Mayo Clinic with a condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome which is a connective tissue disorder," Harris said.

Ehlers-Danlos can cause everything from terrible joint pain to extreme fatigue to fragile eyes. And that's where Moxie comes in.

Moxie is a trained service dog and lifesaver.

"There was a time that I needed an ambulance," Harris said, recounting the experience. "Like immediately. I was on the steps, I couldn't move, I couldn't see, I had no idea where my phone was. So I sent her to go find my phone. Next thing I know, she drops the phone in my lap. I called 911, she got my shoes, and then she opened the door for the paramedics."

Now Harris and Moxie are unleashing that power for others.

Meet Tori Woods and her service dog Belle.

"Her main job is cardiac alert and then panic attack and seizure response," Woods said.

Service dogs are expensive to train, but Woods, who also has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, got Belle thanks to Harris' nonprofit, Moxie's Mission. The nonprofit helps fund service dogs for those in need.

The nonprofit says its mission is to "provide education and knowledge of service dogs, therapy dogs, and emotional support dogs, as well as provide financial assistance for veterans and non-veterans in need of a service dog."

"I think that if I hadn't met her and I hadn't gotten Belle, I would've been indefinitely in a darker place. I wouldn't feel like I could move on, " Woods said.

Moving on, is what Katie Harris is doing as well. She's back on the tennis court, helping kids learn both the grip and grit.

And her shaggy-dog story has a new chapter.

Harris has written a new book called "Moxie Makes a Difference". Her hope is to bring hope to anxious kids.

"The tagline is pay it forward," Harris said. "Make a difference in small ways and big ways. I want to help people."

From struggling to strength.

"She's just an inspiring person," said Woods. "And someone who just shows the resilience that humans can have."

Katie Harris is continuing her long road to recovery helping others know, they will never walk alone.

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