Ian Unger couldn’t wait to ride the school bus to school this year, so the 6-year-old was devasted to learn that he would be unable to ride the bus with his fellow students due to his Type 1 diabetes.
School officials thought it would be unsafe for the Sand Lake, Michigan, boy to ride the bus without an adult present and would not provide an aide to monitor his blood sugar. Their proposed solution was to pick Unger up on an empty bus at 8:45 a.m. after the other kids had already been dropped off at school. But Unger and his family came up with a way that he could ride the bus with his classmates. They decided to get a diabetic alert dog for him.
Diabetic alert dogs can sense a change in blood glucose levels on a diabetic’s breath or sweat, and alert them to take action before it becomes dangerous, according to the American Kennel Club. These helpful pups are even sometimes trained to fetch food or a blood glucose meter for their person.
However, training a diabetic alert dog isn’t easy, and the process can cost $25,000. To raise the money, Ian took over the family’s annual pumpkin sale. And when a stranger, Teresa Funk, wrote about Unger’s story on Facebook, sales began to take off:
“He’s quite the little salesman,” Unger’s mom, Katrina Christensen, told People. “We had hundreds of people in the driveway. He helped every single person pick out the right pumpkin. It was the coolest thing to see.” The family even shared to Facebook photos of people choosing their pumpkins, Ian smiling happily next to each of them.
To help his efforts further, Christensen set up a fundraiser on Facebook. Within a week, they raised $24,890 to add to the $1,000 Unger raised selling pumpkins and $110 he made selling lemonade.
Here’s Ian with his little sister, Alexia, and his pumpkins, in a picture posted to Facebook by his mom:
“He put some pumpkin seeds in the ground and didn’t really take care of them, but let me tell you, he grew a lot of pumpkins,” Ian’s dad, Jeff Unger, told CBS News.”Him and his mom counted over 150.”
In about 10 months, once the pup is trained, Unger will have his alert dog. How awesome!