By RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY
PDT Staff Writer
Notre Dame seventh-grader Jonathan Ware has never met the Elliott family of Ashland, Ky., but their story has inspired Ware to help raise money for a diabetic alert dog for their 5-year-old son.
“They needed help, and I felt like I could help them,” said 12-year-old Ware of Portsmouth.
Caleb Elliott was diagnosed with Type I diabetes last year. His parents, Terry and Amanda Elliott, have already received the alert dog — a Labrador retriever named Vader — from Warren Retrievers Guardian Angel Service in Orange, Va. According to the company, diabetic alert service dogs are trained to recognize and alert on the scent of drastic increase or drops in blood sugar.
The dogs cost about $18,000, and the Elliott family has already paid about half down to receive the dog. The remaining bill is due payable within the next two years.
Ware heard about the Elliott’s from his aunt, Terry Gill, whom is friends with the Elliott family. Having never met the family himself, Ware decided he wanted to help. He set out collecting donations door-to-door, and soon he’ll be selling chocolate bars to raise money also.
“It’s kind of hard, but then again it’s easy because a lot of people are donating,” Ware said.
He also decided to use this as his service project assignment for religion class at Notre Dame Junior High School.
“Every year I require a service project for each nine weeks. It’s not supposed to be something impossible. It’s a way of making them think of things they can do for others,” said teacher Nancy Stegman.
Students typically do well-meaning projecting such as volunteering at a nursing home, or at Sierra’s Haven animal shelter; some go out and pick up trash at a nearby park, or rake leaves for an elderly neighbor. The class only requires two hours of volunteer work, but Stegman said the students often give much more of their time.
“Even though this is a required service project they’re doing for a grade in my class, my hope is that as soon as they realize the difference they can make, they will want to serve others and continue to do it on their own,” Stegman said.
She said she has been inspired by Ware’s project, and may find tasks for all of her students to participate.
“It makes me feel good to help, because Caleb could be really sick without the dog, and that could hurt him,” Ware said.
Donations for the Elliott family can be mailed to Warren Retrievers, c/o Dan Warren for: Caleb Elliott, P.O. Box 910, Orange, VA 22960. More information about Warren Retrievers can be found at www.warrenretrievers.com.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or firstname.lastname@example.org.