Mikaela Broome is hoping a four-legged companion will help her stay healthy.
Broome, 14, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at five years old. Since then, her life has been plagued by needles, high and low sugar levels and fear for her health and safety.
“I forget how serious it can be,” she said. “It’s been uncontrollable lately.”
Broome’s body does not produce insulin, a hormone the body needs to convert sugar to energy. She struggles to maintain her ever-changing sugar level, which Broome said has become harder to control with age. She said she sleeps with a light on in fear she won’t wake up the next day due to high or low sugar levels.
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If left untreated, high blood sugar can result in a diabetic coma, which can be life threatening. Low blood sugar can lead to a seizure or unconsciousness.
Broome, a freshman at York Preparatory Academy, cannot always tell when her sugar levels are rising or dropping, said her mother Lisa Broome.
“She can be really high one minute and then really low the next,” Lisa said. “Her sugar levels have been so hard to maintain. It’s life threatening.”
The normal average level of glucose in the blood over a few months, or A1C, should fall below 5.7 percent, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. A 6.5 percent or above range indicates diabetes. Broome’s has been known to get as high as 14.
Broome said her family constantly worries about her sugar levels. Now, she is asking for the community’s help.
Broome is raising $25,000 for Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers, or SDWR, a Virginia-based nonprofit that provides trained diabetic alert dogs, autism and PTSD service dogs and seizure response dogs worldwide. The organization will provide Broome with a diabetic alert dog trained to her specific needs.
“Having a diabetic alert dog would change my life totally,” Broome wrote in a letter detailing her fundraising efforts. “My family could feel secure at all times knowing the dog would alert me in advance of dangerous sugar levels -- high or low.”
Diabetic alert dogs are trained to detect high and low blood sugar levels 20-45 minutes before levels go out of an acceptable range, according to SDWR. Having an alert dog has also been known to decrease A1C levels by 1.5 percent in the first four months.
The dogs also are trained to dial 911 on a special device, bring food and medication to the individual or get help when needed.
“They are your total companion, 24/7, that will protect and watch over her,” Lisa said.
The cost of raising and training a service dog can reach more than $47,500, according to SDWR. The organization asks receiving families to act as volunteer ambassadors, raising funds and awareness for the group.
With a service dog, Broome will no longer have to constantly worry about her sugar levels changing, Lisa said. “She would know before it got to that emergency. It would change her life.”
The Broome family has raised more than $11,500 toward the goal through individual and business donations.
“We are so thankful for friends and family that have donated to her campaign so far,” Lisa said. “We thank anyone willing to help us raise this money so we can get this dog for her and allow her to have improved quality of life and some security.”
Want to Help?
To support Mikaela Broome’s effort and help her get a diabetic alert dog, donate online at sdwr.donordrive.com/campaign/mikaela. Checks also can be mailed to P.O. Box 647 Madison, Va., 22727. Checks should be made payable to Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers with the memo “Mikaela Broome.”
Texas Roadhouse, 2367 Dave Lyle Blvd. in Rock Hill
Thursday, January 19 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Ten percent of the restaurant’s profits that day will support Broome’s fundraising effort.