By Hannah Dodson
On Sunday, September 23, Tucker Dodson and Luke Varadi hosted the drawing for two winners of the “Fishin’ For A Dog” fundraiser event. The drawing was held at Tucker’s home on Sullivan’s Island, and the winners were the Kohlheim family and Mark Tanenbaum. Because of the overwhelming success of the event, the boys picked a bonus winner, and drew the name of Wando High School classmate Davis Wright. Over $11,000 was raised!
Starting in July, Tucker began selling tickets for the fishing trip raffle. The purpose was to raise money for Luke’s family to buy a Diabetes Alert Dog, trained by the nonprofit organization Guardian Angel Service Dogs. The dog is for Luke, Tucker’s friend from elementary school, who was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes at age 3. Tucker wanted to raise money for the dog as an act of friendship, and as a way to give back to Luke for teaching him how to fish. Luke is a tremendous young angler who has taught Tucker his passion for the sport.
For the last 13 years Luke has had to endure up to 15 finger-pricks per day and night in order to monitor his blood sugar level. If his blood sugar level is too low, then Luke must eat (he carries Skittles when he goes fishing); if it is too high, he must take insulin. It is impossible to predict Luke’s ever-changing blood sugar levels. They vary throughout the day and night because his body does not produce insulin. His activity level, what he eats, stress, and growth also affect his blood sugar.
This dog will change everything. Through its incredibly sensitive nose, and lots of training, the dog will be able to warn Luke if his blood sugar has fallen or risen. When his sugar level escapes a healthy range, the dog can perceive a sweet smell (like bubble gum), or a sour smell (like vinegar). Humans cannot perceive this change. For Luke, this means drastically reducing the number of finger pricks, dramatically reducing amounts of stress and worry, more peaceful and uninterrupted sleep, and, most importantly, keeping his blood sugar at a constant, healthy level means a longer, healthier life for Luke.
The support for this fundraiser went well beyond Tucker and Luke’s hopes. At first, relatives and friends donated, then friends of friends, then friends of distant relatives, then businesses, and finally, strangers who just saw something inspirational in these boys and this story that moved them. Tucker and Luke cannot begin to express their gratitude. They want to say “thank you” in the biggest possible way.
Because of all of the people and businesses who supported this event, Luke should get his amazing Diabetes Alert Dog in November or December. It can’t come soon enough.
Photos courtesy of Hannah Dodson