Meredith Bump concert to raise funds for sister’s service dog

When Emily Bump was 14 years old, she was an active Milford teenager, dancing four hours a week, taking part in various activities and excelling in school.

In January 2007, Emily developed symptoms of dizziness and chronic headaches. She went to the pediatrician, only to be told it was likely a virus that would soon work its way out of her system. Unfortunately, the symptoms got worse.

Emily’s father, Steven Bump, said Emily had trouble finding the energy to get out of bed and get through her day. She fell behind at school due to repeated absences. After two years of visits to specialists from Boston to New York City to Philadelphia and many misdiagnoses, Emily finally received an answer. Dr. Blair Grubb, a world-renown cardiologist from the University of Toledo Medical Center, diagnosed Emily with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS).  

On Saturday, Dec. 3, at 6 p.m., there will be a benefit concert at First Congregational Church in Stratford to raise money towards the cost of getting a service dog for Emily, now 24. The concert will be given by Emily’s sister, Meredith Bump, who is a local vocalist from Milford. The concert will feature a mixture of popular songs and Christmas carols with performances by Kevin Kiley of Stratford and Allison Fay on piano, also from Stratford.

POTS is one of a group of disorders that have orthostatic intolerance (OI) as their primary symptom. OI describes a condition in which an excessively reduced volume of blood returns to the heart after an individual stands up from a lying down position, Steven Bump explained. The primary symptom of OI is lightheadedness or fainting.

In POTS, the lightheadedness or fainting is also accompanied by a rapid increase in heartbeat of more than 30 beats per minute, or a heart rate that exceeds 120 beats per minute, within 10 minutes of rising. The faintness or lightheadedness of POTS are relieved by lying down again. Anyone at any age can develop POTS, but the majority of individuals affected (between 75 and 80%) are women between the ages of 15 to 50 years of age.

“I try to do what I can,” said Emily, “but most days it’s very difficult to do many of the things a lot of people take for granted. If I go to the mall or anywhere that requires a lot of walking, I have to use a wheelchair. Having an invisible illness also presents its challenges as people can be skeptical and even cruel if it’s something they can’t see or never heard of the condition.”

Emily’s goal in getting a service dog is that it will help her with mobility and also address her anxiety fears. Emily spent time researching how to get a service dog. She found a trainer in Massachusetts and traveled to check out a few of the dogs in training. One dog in particular, Daisy, seemed to claim Emily right away.

The training process can take up to two years. Emily gets to see Daisy about once a month so they can train together. Emily’s goal it to raise enough money so she can acquire Daisy towards the end of 2017.

“The cost of a service dog varies based on their specialty and the trainer,” said Steven Bump. “It can range from a few thousand dollars up to $25,000. The cost for Daisy will be in the lower to middle portion of that range.”

Meredith Bump is a 19-year-old student living in Milford. She graduated from Foran High School in 2015 and sang in multiple musicals while in the Foran drama club. She has performed at the Downtown Cabaret Children’s Theatre. Meredith has sung the National Anthem at local area sporting events, including Bridgeport Bluefish games, and has frequently given solo performances at First Congregational Church of Stratford. Many of Meredith’s performances can be heard on YouTube, where her channel has accumulated over 28,000 views. Meredith is currently attending school at Gateway Community College in New Haven where she is studying to be a special education teacher.

First Congregational Church is located at 2301 Main Street in Stratford. There is no admission charge for the concert, but a freewill offering will be taken. All proceeds will go to defraying the cost of Emily’s purchase of her service dog.

Those who are unable to attend the concert, but would still like to donate, can go to YouCaring.com and search for “Dollars for Daisy Service Dog.” People can also monitor Emily and Daisy’s progress at Emily’s “Dollars for Daisy” FaceBook page.