Big Sky loves Jayden
Community rallies to help fund a diabetes alert dog
In a gift of love and support from the community, 63 people from the greater Big Sky area donated over $26,000 within 24 hours to a GoFundMe account for 12 year old Jayden Jacobson. The funds will allow for her to get an alert dog for her junior (Type 1) diabetes. Money was being donated so quickly the family could not shut the fundraising off fast enough.
“What’s amazing about Big Sky is that you know everyone and it’s like a family. Everyone cares for each other,” Jayden said. “Three girls from my soccer team donated, along with some other classmates which made me really happy.”
Jayden’s mother Tracy said they never expected to reach goal so she cried all weekend when she realized the funds had been raised. The entire family cried, she said. “Except for Brodie,” Jayden said of her younger brother and then explained that he was mostly just excited because he negotiated a pet turtle out of the deal.
On a typical morning, Tracy awakens to two different alarms so she can check on Jayden’s blood sugar. The blood sugar level is supposed to be fed into her phone, but the technology typically does not work. More often than not, she stumbles into her daughter’s room to make sure Jayden’s blood sugar is not so low she is in diabetic coma and not so high she is in ketoacidosis – that can result in permanent damage to vital organs. It has been almost two years of twice nightly checks. Jayden no longer stirs when her mother sets to work.
Tracy explained that everything that happens with Jayden’s health today impacts her entire life.
“If she’s high all night and I’m not getting up to get her low again, she’s later losing a foot, a leg, her sight. It’s important that we do what we can today to help her,” she said.
Jayden is resilient – her mom said. She continues to lead the life of a Big Sky kid despite her 6-10 shots of insulin per day. She just attended Moonlight Camp and basketball camp at Carroll College – where her insulin pump broke, leaving her having to manually check her blood sugar nearly constantly.
“She’s my fighter – a tough cookie. She’s brave. She’s a rock climber, an avid monster ripper skier, a basketball player, a soccer player,” Tracy begins listing as Jayden smiles.
Right now, the future addition to the Jacobson home – Daffney the Labradoodle – is training in preparation for when she undertakes her job duties and residence in January or February.
The family currently has the kit that will be used to train Daffney to Jayden’s scent – jars of cotton balls are in the freezer, labeled for their range of blood sugar.
“They train Daffney on the highs and lows off of these cotton balls that Jayden has put her saliva on,” Tracy explained. “Generally, when diabetics have blood sugar that is too high it has a fruity smell and when it is too low it has a kind of bitter or acidic kind of smell.”
Soon, Tracy will have more restful nights because she will no longer be dependent on faulty technology – Daffney will alter her if Jayden’s blood sugar is out of range – with the speed and accuracy that costly machines have yet to match.
“I think Daffney is going to take a complete load off. If we get unplugged and the data is not on, Dafnee is going to be a [huge asset]. We’re all trying to be the pancreas,” Jayden’s father Scott said.
Daffney will be Jayden’s best friend and a lifelong dream come true, Tracy said.
“I’ve always wanted a dog, so when I heard that there were diabetic service dogs and I knew it would be very helpful because I also have a case of anxiety and depression. I thought it could be an emotional and service dog,” Jayden explained before noting statistics: 25 percent of kids with diabetes have anxiety and 25 percent also have depression. “That’s a large percentage.”
The Jacobsons have made Big Sky their home for the past 23 years, Tracy said.
“The people who have known Jayden have known her since she was born and have loved her since she was born,” Tracy said. “[This] just shows the amazingness of this community and how we all rally around each other.”
The Jacobson family expressed a heartfelt thank you to all who donated and everyone who has shown them love and support.