According to the American Diabetes Association, an estimated 193,000 Americans under the age of 20 have been diagnosed with diabetes.
Of those shockingly high numbers, nearly 18,000 were diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes between 2011 and 2012.
For those who are unfamiliar with this debilitating disease, Type 1 diabetes is the kind that can’t be controlled with diet.
With Type 1, your body doesn’t produce insulin. Those dealing with this illness have to rely on insulin injections and sometimes other treatments just to live “normally.”
It’s one thing to be an adult dealing with Type 1 diabetes, but imagine being a young child — or a parent of that child.
All parents want is for their kids to grow up happy and healthy. Making friends, and enjoying activities as simple as riding the bus to school.
Six-year-old Ian Unger wants to ride the school bus more than anything. Unfortunately, Ian’s Type 1 diabetes is preventing him from participating in this very normal childhood experience.
Naturally, Ian’s mother, Katrina Christensen, asked the school for an aide who could ride with Ian and help monitor his special needs.
But Christensen told ABC 13 On Your Side the request for an aide was “declined.”
“Their plan was to put him on an empty bus by himself and take him to school after school starts,” she shared. “And for Ian, he’s so social. He was devastated.”
“I want to see my friends on the bus because most of them ride the bus,” Ian said. “They don’t really take cars. And I want to ride the bus with them because I want to see them.”
So Christiansen and her kindergartner, who attends MacNaughton Elementary in Howard City, Michigan, decided to come up with their own plan.
Rather than accept Ian would never receive his dream of riding the bus to school, they decided to grow their chances right at home.
A Facebook post from September 26 featured the smiling 6-year-old sitting with his little sister in a pile of pumpkins.
“Ian’s pumpkins are ready!” the Facebook post reads. “Ian… is raising money for a diabetic alert service dog.”
“A service dog for a diabetic alerts the person to their blood sugars about 45 minutes before your blood sugar will show up on the meter,” Christensen told ABC 13 On Your Side.
A service dog for Ian will cost the family $25,000. The Sand Hill community has responded in a big way, and Ian’s pumpkins sold out!
Thankfully some good-hearted folks donated more so Ian could keep selling. “I was in tears all day with all these people coming, and just the love they are showing to him is amazing,” Christiansen explained.
The family has also started a fundraiser on Facebook to help them achieve their $25,000 goal. So far they’ve raised over $14,000.
“We are so blown away by the outpouring of love and support from the community already!” Christiansen wrote on Facebook. “We are creating this fundraiser for any help you feel in your heart.”
We pray this little boy gets the service dog he needs. Maybe one day soon we’ll even see a photo of him and his dog together, riding the bus to school, and having the best day ever!
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.