By Anna McNeill
For parents Tara and Chris Williams, life changed on November 21, 2012 when their youngest son, Anton, 6 years old at the time, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes with a blood sugar of 1,047.
Since the diagnosis, Anton’s parents have struggled to figure out the right way to help Anton throughout the day as his blood sugar spikes and drops. Anton, being only 8 years old, still isn’t able to recognize the signs of these spikes and drops, causing a lot of confusion and fear among the Williams family.
“It’s different every day,” Tara said. “His blood sugar can be anywhere from 1,047 to 26.”
With the irregularity of his blood sugars, Anton has to check his sugar between 8 to 15 times per day and his mother says on normal days that could range from 600 to the 20s.
“He’s never gotten to the point where he’s blacked out or got to the point where he’s passed out,” Tara said.
Anton turned to his mom and said, “I was close.”
His parents said that during his “highs” or when his blood sugar is very high, he can get hungry, overly thirsty, have to use the bathroom a lot and be cranky, to which Anton responded, “I do not.”
His “lows,” or when his blood sugars are getting low, Anton becomes lethargic, pale and his brain doesn’t want to work.
Around a year ago, Chris decided that he needed to start researching ways to help Anton cope with this illness and help Anton know when he is having his “highs” or “lows.”
Chris stumbled across the organization Heads Up Hounds out of Nebraska. This organization takes animals out of local animal shelters (within 200 miles from the organization’s location in Nebraska) and trains them to become Diabetic Alert Dogs, or D.A.D. for short.
Chris and Tara know that with the help of a D.A.D. that Anton would have the ability to notice when he is having “highs” and “lows” because the dog’s job would be to alert Anton in various ways of a spike or drop and wouldn’t stop alerting until the problem was addressed.
Right now, Anton gets help from his teachers, the principal and Carol Mason who helps Anton check his sugars during his time at school.
Getting a D.A.D. has a lot more hoops to jump through than adopting or getting a “regular” dog. Tara had to make sure that things would work out with Anton bringing his D.A.D. to school and she said that Superintendant Tom House has been a great help working with her and double checking to make sure all thing are worked out to move ahead.
Chris explained that since Tara applied to Heads Up Hounds during the Thanksgiving break, things have been moving at full speed ahead. The day after applying, Anton was approved for a D.A.D. and the fundraising process began.
It costs the William’s family $1,500 down to put Anton on the list for a D.A.D. and within 16 months the organization will adopt and train a shelter or rescue dog to become Anton’s D.A.D. When they go to pick up the dog, they will have to have the final $6,000.
Tara and Chris signed up on a fundraising website called http://www.youcaring.com and a little under three days later they were up to $1,085.
“We’re almost $300 away from being there,” Chris said after getting two more notifications of donations within a half hour span.
“The support has just been amazing,” Chris said.
Tara said that the money rose from the “You Caring” fundraiser along with a t‑shirt fundraiser and a spaghetti dinner fundraiser, will all be going towards the purchasing and travel to pick up Anton’s D.A.D. Any additional money earned the family is going to donate to another family who is seeking a D.A.D. for their child.
After Anton was diagnosed was when Tara truly realized how many other families were struggling with the same issues that she and her family now are.
“We want to give back to the community,” Tara said, “and raise awareness about diabetes.”
T‑shirt sales are going on now, with the shirts being made by Veto Giannova of Harrison. T‑shirt orders can be made by picking up an order sheet from Larson Elementary, Hillside Elementary, Mr. Vetoes Pizza, Ashcroft Chiropractic or by getting a hold of Tara via Facebook or email at email@example.com.
The family will also be hosting a spaghetti dinner at the Masonic Lodge in Harrison on January 10 from 2 pm to 7 pm. The dinner will be an all you can eat spaghetti dinner for $5 per person at the door. There will also be a silent auction, t‑shirts for sale and 50/50 raffle.
Anton and his family are all residents of Harrison and live in Hamilton Township. His father, Chris works for the Clare County Sheriff’s Department and grew up in Clare County. Tara has been in Harrison since 2000 and works at Behavioral Rehabilitation Services in Harrison. Anton’s siblings, Austin, Bryce and Julianna, have all grown up in Harrison as well.
To donate to Anton’s fight against diabetes you can visit the You Caring website by typing http://www.youcaring.com/medical‑fundraiser/anton‑s‑fight‑against‑diabetes‑/271429 into your web browser and to find out more about Heads Up Hounds you can visit their website at http://www.headsuphounds.com or check out their Facebook page.