Ryan family seeks help in getting diabetic alert dog
Nolan Jewell is a spunky, rambunctious kid.
The 11-year-old is equally at home on the soccer field or busting a move at a local diner, as a recent video shared by his mother Sarah Ryan amply attests.
But Nolan's energy has a downside. He has Type 1 diabetes.
If his blood sugar gets too low, he could have a seizure and die. Too high, and there's a greater chance of long-term complications including nerve damage, heart problems or poor circulation leading to amputation.
"He did nothing wrong, he just got a faulty pancreas," explains his stepdad, Casey Ryan, who moonlights as the mayor of Troutdale.
The Ryans want to give Nolan a constant companion that can monitor his glucose for him, even when the fifth-grader at Troutdale Elementary is sleeping.
It's not an app or medical gizmo. It's a dog.
"I was skeptical at first," Casey says. "But when his blood sugar starts to drop just a little, the (dogs) smell it coming out of the pores."
They've already found a diabetic alert service dog, Rio, who's available through a dog-training company in Forest Grove called Pieces of the Universe.
Rio's price tag is steep. Training costs roughly $15,000, but the couple also wants to purchase pooch insurance, which goes for about $1,500.
Sarah Ryan has already launched a crowd-sourced fundraising campaign on YouCaring. So far, they've racked up $6,375 out of the $16,500 goal.
"Seeing Nolan go through this has been the hardest thing I have had to do as a mom," she wrote on that site. "Every night, I can't help but worry about how Nolan's blood sugar is going to be."
The family says Nolan is sometimes forced to check his blood sugar levels dozens of times a day. They're tried using an internal glucose monitor with little success. That sort of device runs on body fat, which a skinny, athletic kid like Nolan doesn't have.
Sarah says it's almost like having a newborn again. She rarely gets more than three or four hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.
"(His blood sugar) can literally fall 350 points in half an hour. It's beeping and making noises all throughout the night," she said in an interview. "It's heartbreaking.
Terry Blosser, the Ryans' backyard neighbor, has been doing his part to alert the local media. The legally blind Troutdale resident knows well the abilities of a trained service dog.
"Children don't want to stop, sit there and dab their finger to find out what their glucose levels are," he notes. "They're a wonderful family."
How to donate
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More details on Nolan's story, including information on how to donate, can be found at www.youcaring.com/nolanjewell.