When 4-year-old Ian Christensen was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2016, his devastated family quickly turned to one of his own – Ian's uncle Aaron, who was diagnosed with the disease in his teens and he eventually diagnosed both lost eyesight and a kidney in 1996.
"You can not let diabetes control you," Aaron remembers his nephew. "You have to control it."
When Ian, now 6 years old, discovered that he was not allowed to ride the school bus because of his illness this year, he decided to do something about it.
It began a few months ago when the school district of the Tri County region in Sand Lake, Michigan, told Ian's parents that Ian could not ride the school bus alone due to the extremely sensitive fluctuations in his blood sugar.
His parents sought help from the school, but they were turned down and the two parties went back and forth over other options for Ian, including a private bus ride, according to Ian's mother, Katrina Christensen. But this last option would have meant that her son had to drive on a private bus and arrived after all the other children at school ̵
"You will not do that with my child, he will not be any different than he already is," said mother ABC News.
"This is my child and I have to do what I can do," she added.
Katrina Christensen and her son finally came up with the idea to send him with a watchful dog in the school bus, who can quickly feel when Ians blood sugar drops or repels. It was an idea that originated a year ago when Ian began harassing his parents for a "normal" dog.
"I mentioned it to Ian … and we said: 'If we get a dog, let's get one who's trained," Katrina Christensen said.
To prepare for this, the family spent time watching YouTube videos on how attentive dogs are trained, hoping to impress Ian on how much time and money it takes to bring these dogs to smoking , The family also met another diabetic child in the district who raised money for their own watchful dog so that Ian could ask questions and learn more about their experience. Despite her preparation and research, Katrina Christensen and her husband had to explain to their son that it would take several years for the $ 25,000 they needed to buy the dog to be raised.
While his family sold backyard vegetables from their garden in front of their home, Ian began selling lemonade as to why he was collecting the money. And when the summer season came to fall, Ian decided that he would continue his family tradition of selling pumpkins – a seasonal item his family had been selling for decades – to contribute to his fund.
His smile and "can-do" attitude quickly persuaded his customers to quit and give him $ 20 or $ 50 in pumpkins, which the family usually sold for only $ 5 or $ 8, depending on their size.
"We expected to raise a few hundred donations and fundraise next year," said Katrina Christensen, who said her personal Facebook post was quickly collected and shared within the first 24 hours.
Within a few days, the post office was shared more than 10,000 times and encouraged Katrina Christensen to create a fundraising site to facilitate the flooding of donation requests.
"I was not prepared at all," she said.
"We raised nearly $ 2,000 the first night, and I said, I'm happy to see it cost over $ 2,500 tomorrow." And when I woke up, it was $ 15,000! she cried out.
"You can not imagine what it feels like when so many people show you so much support and love," she said. "There is one person who donated $ 1,000, I do not know who that person is, I have never met that person, but someone has felt it in their hearts to donate $ 1,000 to a boy she never met to have.
People drove off for four or five hours and insisted on queuing to make sure they talked to Ian herself, the mother said. His story has also reached other families in the district fighting with their own school fights.
One parent, whose child was not allowed to ride the school bus for health reasons, even sent a letter home thanking the Christensen family for their "bravery and determination" and inspiring others to "make changes" to our schools , "
District Superintendent Al Cummings told ABC News that he could not comment on a federal law prohibiting the disclosure of personal information about students, but issued the following statement:
"For the Protection of Family and Student Rights (FERPA) we are unable to comment on [to] specific students and / or their personal needs." Tri-County Area Schools has made it their mission to our students Helping them do what they can to help them achieve their goals The wellbeing of our students always comes first. "
Ian's fundraising site, which has garnered nearly $ 24,000 on Tuesday afternoon, secured Ian's new dog, which will come from Alert Service Dogs in Indianapolis, Katrina Christensen.
So, how did the parents break the good news about Ian?
"When we picked him up from school yesterday, I said Daddy wants to tell you something," said Katrina Christensen.
"Guess what?" Ian's father, Jeff Christensen, asked.
"What?" Ian answered.
"You got all your money, you get your dog," said his father.
Ian began to roar and cheer for his mother, but he did not stop. When he learned that their fundraising site had collected more than they could ever need, Ian insisted on spreading the wealth.
"Any money left," Katrina Christensen said, "Ian plans to donate so another kid like him can get a dog or pump or whatever it is to make diabetes easier, because he knows how hard it is. " 19659045]