Fun run to raise money for service dog training

Dog alerts when girl's blood-sugar level gets low or high

Joshua Kellogg
Sugar, a service dog for 7-year-old Kiera Schrock, sits in their home off the La Plata Highway north of Farmington on Wednesday.
  • Kiera Schrock has been diagnosed with several other medical conditions including gastritis and esophagitis.
  • Farmington and Aztec high school students are working together to stage a weekend benefit for Schrock.
  • Sugar, Keira's service dog, is already alerting family members about her low blood-sugar levels.

FARMINGTON — Makaylee Boergadine is happy to see 7-year-old Kiera Schrock acquire a service dog to help monitor her diabetes condition and help her live a more active life.

"People don’t understand how life-changing those dogs can be," Boergadine said.

Boergadine knows that all too well, as the 15-year-old Aztec High School Key Club president was diagnosed with diabetes herself when she was 2 years old.

Boergadine and other Aztec Key Club members will assist the Farmington High School Key Club and Natural Helpers Club host a Fun Run for Kiera this weekend. The event will raise money to help pay for training Sugar, Schrock's service dog, to monitor her Type I diabetes condition.

Boergadine is also in the process of having her service dog Sky, a pitbull mix, trained to help monitor her blood-sugar level.

"I didn't get this dog thinking it would be the animal that saved my life," Boergadine said.

Schrock and her mother Keri spoke about Kiera's journey at their home north of Farmington along N.M. Highway 170 Wednesday. The girl was diagnosed with diabetes in July 2015 after her parents noticed she had been losing weight, feeling lethargic and complaining of blurred vision, Keri Schrock said.

JJ Oliver,  left, Kiera Schrock and their mother Keri Schrock talk about Kiera's service dog Sugar on Wednesday at their home north of Farmington.

Her daughter was flown to Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque after her blood sugar level registered 701 milligrams per deciliter at the San Juan Regional Medical Center. A target blood sugar range is between 80 and 130 milligrams before a meal and less than 180 milligrams after a meal, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Since then, she also has been diagnosed with other medical conditions including gastritis, esophagitis and duodenitis, along with hyperthyroidism.

"I just didn't know what was really happening, so it scared me," Kiera said.

The family initially attempted to raise $25,000 to purchase a fully trained dog from a breeder, but they struggled with various fundraisers in the past, Keri said

Sugar, a miniature Australian shepherd, was purchased from an Oklahoma-based breeder and is being trained by a local trainer. The dog already has alerted family members several times when Keira's blood-sugar level is too high or too low, including while she was sleeping.

"I just want my daughter to have a normal life," Keri said.

Kiera Schrock and her brother JJ Oliver play with Kiera's service dog Sugar at their home north of Farmington on Wednesday.

Kiera said it made her feel good that people were hosting an event to raise money for Sugar's training. All of the funds from the $5 admission charge will go to Sugar's training, according to Farmington High Key Club president Tiffany Hood.

The club is also asking for a canned food donation as part of the admission price. The food will go to the ECHO food bank, where club members volunteers on Tuesdays to package the canned food for delivery.

The event will feature a snow cone booth, a DJ spinning music, a silent auction, face painting and an activities table.

Hood said this is the club's big annual service project and she is happy to be able to help Sugar receive her training.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

If you go

What: Fun Run for Keira

When: 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday

Where: Farmington High School track, 2200 N. Sunset Ave. in Farmington.

Cost: $5 and a can of food