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September 02, 2014 06:34 PM

Sioux Falls Family Creates Awareness For Diabetes

Sioux Falls, SD

River McKenzie was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes one week after his 5th birthday. In hopes of connecting to others in the diabetes community, his mom, Bethany, started a blog and a Facebook page.

"It's a lot of therapy for me to talk about what we go through on a daily basis. But we ended up now having 4,000 or so followers," Bethany McKenzie said.

Even reaching people across the globe.

"A lot of people from around the world have contacted me and shared their story and have asked specific questions about River so it has been a great way to communicate with other people going through the same things." Bethany McKenzie said.

Similar to the ice bucket challenge, River and his brother completed the "Chug it Challenge" which the family hopes will spread the message that extreme thirst is one of the symptoms of type 1 diabetes.

"Ours is less about fund raising, although we never turn away money to help research for a cure for diabetes, but ours is more about spreading awareness." Bethany McKenzie said.

The McKenzie's family dog is named Meatball, in just a couple of weeks they will be adding another dog to help River control his diabetes.

"It's about a year-long training process for the dog. Whenever River has a blood sugar that's outside of his healthy range, we cut a cotton ball into tiny pea size pieces and saturates it with his saliva.. then we freeze it and ship to the dog. So the dog is trained on River's sense for when he's in and out of range," Bethany McKenzie said.

Monitoring River's blood sugar is just one way, Clover will be able to help.

"He's very busy and he gets distracted and he's not paying attention to how he feels, so that's why the dog for us was so important," Bethany McKenzie said.

But this super kid, with super powers, isn't letting his diabetes slow him down.

"You don't know how strong your child is until they are put through that," Bethany McKenzie said.

Clover is expected to join the McKenzie family in about six weeks. 



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