A Bismarck teen living with health concerns has led him and his family to seek a little extra help.
That help could come from something as simple as companionship.
“The date still stands out. January 20th, 2019 he was diagnosed,” Nicholas Johnson said.
Johnson is referring to his 14-year-old son, Aidan, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was only 12.
“The lifestyle change is quite enormous from that, but he’s handled it a lot better than I ever would’ve,” Nicholas said.
He says Aidan essentially has no limits.
“It hasn’t stopped him at all. He still does pretty much everything,” Nicholas said. “He’s a hockey player, he’s a lacrosse player, he’s an outstanding cello player.”
But there’s one barrier that has held him back.
“As you’re active and the more activity you do, the more your body naturally burns the sugar in your blood,” Nicholas said. “So, you can go low very quickly without even noticing and he doesn’t feel his highs or lows.”
Nicholas says this could lead to serious health issues.
“So, that’s where the service animal comes into play,” he said.
Two years ago the family applied for a service dog through a nonprofit out of Kansas.
“We did a bunch of research on service animals and diabetic lurk dogs so that they will alert for any highs and lows in blood sugar,” Nicholas said.
And just last week, Aidan was approved to receive his furry support friend.
“I was super excited. I didn’t know what to think of it. I was happy because I finally have like a set in stone helper,” Aidan said.
But that helper doesn’t come cheap.
“Most of the service animal organizations that we were looking at were going to charge us anywhere from $25,000 to $30,000 for the animal,” Nicholas said.
He says the nonprofit that approved him is asking for $5,000, but that’s still a big expense, especially when you include transporting the dog back to North Dakota, too.
So, they’ve started fundraising.
“We worked with the Mandan Dakota Lions Club and they did a 50/50 raffle where they benefited Aidan and his service dog,” Nicholas said.
The family still has a way to go before they hit their goal, but they refuse to give up until Aidan has his new best friend.
“It adds an extra layer of safety net for my wife and I, and Aidan, of course, to monitor his diabetes levels,” Nicholas said.
He says Aidan and his mom plan to fly down to Kansas in June to train with the dog for a week before bringing the dog home.
For more information on how to support bringing Aidan’s service friend home, click here.