Homer woman raising funds for diabetic alert dog for daughter


HOMER, N.Y. — A Homer woman is asking for the public's help in raising $25,000 for a diabetic alert dog for her teen daughter.

Alyson Witt, 16, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when she was 9 years old. The family needs the funding to purchase a trained diabetic alert dog, which would allow Alyson to go away to college.

About 200,000 teens and more than 1 million adults are living with T1D, a condition that makes it difficult to control blood sugar levels. A diabetic alert dog is capable of detecting abnormal blood sugar levels up to 45 minutes in advance, with an accuracy rate near 92 percent, according to Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers, Inc. (SDWR). With that kind of freedom and independence, Alyson would have the ability to participate in more physical activities and improve her quality of life.

"I would like her to be able to go away and not worry," Shane Witt said.

The condition has made it difficult for Alyson to live a normal life. She's spent many long nights with her mom trying to get her blood sugar up. When Alyson is asleep, it can be extremely difficult to wake her.

"When she's awake, she'll often know. When she's asleep, she doesn't wake up," her mother put it simply. Alyson is also a long-distance runner, but her condition has kept her from finishing races in the past.

"I've done cross country races, and halfway through the race I can't feel my legs and I just have to collapse and stop," she said. "I kind of let my team down, but at the same time it's not really my fault."

On Wednesday, April 18, a spaghetti dinner fundraiser will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Homer Elks Lodge, located at 82 Cortland St. in Homer. All of the profits will go toward the purchase of a diabetes alert dog for Alyson.

The family also plans to hold a 5K fundraiser in September or October. There is an ongoing bottle and can drive happening at the T & T Redemption and Recycling Center at 160 Clinton Avenue, the Riverside Plaza. They're also collecting donations from IthaCAN & Bottle Return, located at 614 Elmira Rd. in Ithaca.

Shane Witt created a Facebook group called Paws for Aly, which includes information about the family's latest efforts.