Local 8-year-old in need of life-saving service dog

It was about three years ago that the LaClare family of Loganville realized that their life would never again be quite the same. It was the day they learned that Raelyn, their then 5-year-old daughter, had Type 1 Diabetes.

LaClare family. Contributed photo

“Have you ever had one of those moments when everything changes, but you don’t realize it at first. When you don’t really know what you’re getting into…but you have no choice. Imagine every aspect of your life changing while on the outside everything looks exactly the same,” Raelyn’s parents wrote in a blog chronicling the family’s Type 1 Diabetes journey. “All of a sudden, everything you eat must be counted, every moment of activity or inactivity monitored. It’s like a prison sentence with needles, medicine bottles and various other supplies where bars would normally be. It’s not just the added burden and work of life, but it’s also the complete and utter absence of normalcy. For a 5-year-old, it’s incomprehensible. For her parents, it’s a haunting moment, when you realize you can’t make this better and it will follow her forever. Into school, work, marriage, parenthood…you begin to worry about everything all at once and you wish so badly it was you instead. But it can’t be you, It’s her and as much as you have it by default, she’s still the patient.”

What makes it worse is that Raelyn falls into the 17 percent of Type 1 diabetics whose bodies cannot tell them when their blood sugar is dangerously low – what they call Hypoglycemic Unaware. And this is most dangerous at night when most Type 1 diabetics would wake up when their blood sugar drops, but Raelyn doesn’t. As a result, her family has to sleep with one eye open every night.

There is, however, a way that the now 8-year-old and her family can get to live a more normal life. That is if they can get Raelyn a service dog – a specially trained diabetic alert dog through Service Dogs by Warren Retriever.

“Living a balanced life as a diabetic or diabetes care taker isn’t always easy. With the unconditional support of a Diabetic Alert Dog, that balance becomes a possibility. SDWR’s alert dogs for diabetics provide the stability, safety and support that more diabetics desire in their life,” SDWR note on its website. “SDWR places golden retrievers and labrador retrievers, in EXTREME cases due to doctor-verified allergies, we can also place doodles.”

But these service dogs don’t come cheap – in fact the one Raelyn would need costs $25,000. A donor drive to help raise the money is posted on the SDWR website and as of Friday more than $9,000 has been raised. But now a Loganville business, the Great Harvest Bread Company, has joined in the drive and issued a challenge to the community to help little Raelyn get that life changing service dog.

“During the months of February and March, Great Harvest Bread Company and the amazing community we exist in will help Raelyn raise money towards her goal of purchasing a Diabetic Alert Dog. Any change you leave at our register will be given to this great effort as will 20% of our featured product this month – Cashew Crunch Bars,” the Great Harvest Bread Company wrote on its Facebook page. “Should you want to participate in an even bigger way, you may drop a check into the collection container made out to “SDWR” which is a 501c3 non-profit organization so all gifts via that means will be tax deductible. You can also give online at sdwr.donordrive.com/campaign/raelyn and those gifts are tax-deductible as well.”

The local community has always been quick to step up to help wherever it can. In this instance, it can help towards a service dog for Raelyn, support a local business that is heavily invested in the community, and enjoy some tasty treats from the Great Harvest Bread company as well all at the same time.


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