A 6-year-old Michigan boy with Type 1 diabetes has exceeded his $20,000 fundraising goal after his pumpkin patch effort to raise money for a service dog went viral.
Ian Unger, a kindergarten student at McNaughton Elementary School, requires constant supervision for his insulin levels and was told that he couldn’t ride the bus anymore without an aide, WZZM reported.
According to Ian's mother, Katrina Christensen, the family’s request for an aide was denied, so the district planned to put him "on an empty bus by himself and take him to school after school starts."
Christensen said her son was devastated that he couldn't ride the bus with his friends. So the family came up with a plan to get their Ian a service dog who could act as a companion and alert him to emergencies.
“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 the news outlet.
But the average wait time for a diabetic service dog is around 6 months to a year, with costs typically determined by the patient’s needs.
To help move the process along, Christensen took Ian’s mission to Facebook and set up a pumpkin patch fundraiser, advertising pumpkins for just $5. She shared that Ian was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes just one week shy of turning 4, when he started slurring his words and was hardly able to stand. He was rushed to the hospital and placed in ICU where doctors discovered that he was experiencing diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which could lead to a diabetic coma.
In patients with type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin, which is the hormone the body needs to get glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body. About 1.25 million Americans have type 1 diabetes, and an estimated 40,000 people will be newly diagnosed each year. According to the American Diabetes Association, with the help of insulin therapy and other treatments, patients, including young children, can learn to manage their condition and live long lives.
Christensen shared that Ian has been regulating his condition with injections, an insulin pump and a 24-hour blood/glucose monitor.
Ian quickly ran out of pumpkins, but the funds have kept pouring in. As of Monday night, 621 people had donated $22,196 --reaching the benchmark in just three days.
Fox News' Samuel Chamberlain contributed to this report.