Twice in the past year, while asleep in his bed, Mike Passwaters has had two seizures due to a decrease of the sugar levels in his body. A type 1 diabetic now for twenty years, he has learned to adapt to the fact that his body does not produce enough insulin. Watching his intake of food and drink and checking his blood sugar level 5 to 6 times daily, Mike also has a small port that allows his insulin pump to deliver small doses of insulin throughout the day. Over several years he has also developed an issue with hypoglycemia unawareness, a term given to individuals that over time have difficulties recognizing the warning signs of low blood sugar.
During the last nighttime episode, Mike was unresponsive to the contact of his wife Leslie, after she was woken up from feeling him shake. She immediately called 911 and a team of paramedics came to their home to assist.
“This was extremely scary and I don’t know what could have happened if I didn’t wake up,” stated Leslie Passwaters, Mike’s wife. “Because of this, I am constantly waking up at night checking on him, what if I didn’t wake up.”
Sharing the frightening experience with family and friends, the couple ran into an individual that uses a Diabetic Alert Dog (DAD) to help with his problems associated with hypoglycemia unawareness. These professional animals are trained to recognize the chemical changes that take place within the human body when blood sugar levels are altered. Once that change is detected the dog will alert its owner through trained responses including licking the human’s hand. With a wife and two children, Mike immediately understood the assistance and stability that a DAD could bring to his family.
Researching the DAD program, Leslie found a training facility in Virginia Beach that could meet the specific needs of the Passwaters family. The challenge presented itself when the family discovered the cost for a trained Diabetic Alert Dog; $12,000. With both Mike and Leslie working, the cost for the animal is just too much for the family of four. Knowing that a DAD could save Mike’s life and protect her family’s future, Leslie began a community fundraising effort asking for donations to help cover the cost of the trained dog.
“Getting a DAD is very expensive but very worth it, any help we get would be immensely appreciated”, stated Leslie. “The funds raised will be going to the initial cost of the dog and its training, travel costs, and vet expenses. Any money left over will be donated to the Delaware branch for juvenile diabetes.”
The Passwaters family has already raised $1,840 through a free online fundraising service known as You Caring.com. Their first goal is to raise $3,000 which will be used as the down payment for the Diabetic Alert Dog, the remaining $7,000 will be due when the dog is picked up from his completed training. Mike will also spend four days at the training facility, acclimating himself and his body’s chemical changes to the service dog.
“I want to be able to protect my family and do not want another one of those nights to happen,” commented Mike. “…especially with Bailey here,” he added referring to Leslie and his four-month old daughter.
The couple plans to raise awareness about diabetes, hypoglycemia unawareness and Diabetic Alert Dogs in the near future through letters to non-profit organizations and hosting events. Individuals looking to help the Passwaters can donate by visiting their fundraising page at http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/help-mike-get-a-diabetic-alert-dog-/53694, calling Leslie directly at 302-448-0863 or by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.