Rewind: Bloomfield family receives service dog
Editor's note: The Daily Times' annual "Rewind" series revisits stories we have reported on over the past year. To read more “Rewind” stories, go to daily-times.com.
BLOOMFIELD – It was an early Christmas for members of a local family who received a service dog earlier this month for their 2-year-old boy who has been diagnosed with two rare medical disorders.
Parents Kelly and Pat Lucero and 5-year-old daughter Shelby are grateful for members of the community who raised $30,000 to help purchase Halo, a golden Labrador retriever, for their 2-year-old son Reagan.
“Halo would not have been possible without the community stepping in to assist,” Pat said.
The certified service dog was trained for nearly six months to watch Reagan as he manages a metabolic disorder called glycogen storage disease and a rare brain abnormality called subependymal heterotopia.
As reported by The Daily Times on March 29, the family was collecting funds to purchase, train and transport a certified service dog to monitor Reagan’s blood sugar level and possible seizures from his brain abnormality.
The family raised $30,000 in about 36 days, according to Pat. Members of the community contributed to Reagan’s medical fund by holding a raffle, while staff members at a local radio station donated on-air time for the Luceros to go on the station and talk about Reagan's plight.
On May 19, the students in Pam Erickson’s fifth-grade class at Country Club Elementary School in Farmington donated more than $5,300 that students from the school raised. Erickson said the class project grew to include students throughout the entire school, who competed to see which class could raise the most money.
“They did everything they could think of to raise money,” Erickson said. “It was a wonderful learning experience, as well as giving back.”
Halo arrived on the Lucero’s doorstep on Dec. 10, about six months after he was purchased from an organization called Diabetic Alert Dogs of America.
The rare version of glycogen storage disease Reagan has occurs in less than 1 percent of reported cases.
It took about 20 different diagnoses and visits to hospitals across the country before Reagan was diagnosed with the type zero variant of glycogen storage disease, a very rare version of the disease that affects the liver. Reagan’s body is unable to convert glucose from food into glycogen, which is stored in the liver to maintain his blood sugar level.
He is given a mixture of uncooked corn starch, an amino-acid base formula and protein powder every four hours through a pump connected to a gastrostomy tube in his abdomen.
Halo is trained to alert Reagan’s parents if the boy's blood sugar level drops below 80 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Kelly said Halo already has alerted her and her husband several times when Reagan’s blood sugar level fell below that mark.
“He’s been altering on Reagan at 79 (mg/dL), and what that does for us, it gives us ample time to react,” Pat Lucero said.
Halo has acclimated well to Reagan and the Lucero family. Pat said he was surprised by how calm Halo is and how well he responds to commands.
Reagan has welcomed Halo with open arms, which gives Kelly a sense of relief. She said Reagan has run screaming from every other large dog he has met.
The arrival of Halo brings hope for Kelly and Pat, who would like to see Reagan be able to attend school and take part in the sports he loves watching on television.
“With Halo, it’s more of a possibility that he may actually be able to get out on the baseball field or out on the soccer field,” Kelly said.
The next major goal for Reagan will be learning to eat solid food and stop using his feeding tube.
“He just barely started drinking water out of a cup,” Pat said. “That’s huge.”
The Luceros and Erickson are planning a meeting next month between Halo and the Country Club Elementary students who helped raise the money for his purchase.
“(The students) are so excited about that,” Erickson said. “The Luceros are such an incredible family, so kind and caring.”
Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.