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Organization working to fight diabetes with sense of smell

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ISLE OF PALMS, S.C. (WCIV) -- It's a new resource in the battle against juvenile diabetes, but it isn't cheap.

For $20,000 juveniles with type 1 diabetes can obtain a dog trained to alert the child and adults when the child is low or high in blood sugar.

Those in the Lowcountry working to raise awareness for juvenile diabetes say it's well worth the investment. In fact, an organization, A Dog for Kate, has been founded with the goal of raising funds for those in need of a highly-trained canine companion. As a part of the A Dog for Kate cause, a yard sale was held on Isle of Palms Saturday.

Carol Varadi was very involved in that yard sale. A mother of a child soon to have one of the dogs, she is now working with A Dog for Kate to help others make what could seem to be the impossible a realistic benefit. Varadi describes what the dogs do as "amazing."

The dogs trained by Guardian Angel Service Dogs detect blood sugar by scent and come with a two-year training plan and 10-year guarantee.

"There's a gentleman in Virginia who trains these dogs," she said. "He also is a type 1 diabetic. His company is backed by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation."

What makes such a huge investment worthwhile? Varadi says it's because the dogs are pretty much guaranteed as a life-saving tool for that 10 year period. They go everywhere with the child just as any other medical service dog, always with the well-being of the child in mind.

"It's very important. It can be very dangerous. If you drop too low, you could pass out, have a seizure. If you go too high, of course, you can go into a coma. Very serious things can happen. It's so important to have good glucose control, good control of your sugar and just to maintain your good health so that you don't have complications over time," Varadi said.

Though only $333 were raised Saturday, Varadi said several future fundraisers are in the works. She also said donations can be made online at adogforkate.com. On July 14, The Citadel men's golf team will host a charity golf tournament for the cause at the Black Bear Golf Club in Myrtle Beach.

Local nonprofit A Dog For Kate was founded by the parents of Kate Hanchon. After learning dogs could help keep their child safe, they began the organization not just for Kate's benefit but all those with juvenile diabetes in need of a service dog in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

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