Catholic Community Invited to Help Young Diabetes Patient Purchase Much Needed Service Dog


By Tony DeGol

Jocelyn Yanzetich lists cereal as one of her favorite foods, particularly Lucky Charms.

The adorable fourth grader at Saint Michael School in Loretto is looking for a little luck of her own these days.

Jocelyn battles type one diabetes, a condition with which she was diagnosed in kindergarten.

Although she has a Dexcom glucose monitoring system that is compatible with mobile devices, a private nurse is with her in the classroom throughout the school day to provide the almost constant oversight that someone with her medical situation requires.

“With type one, your sugar can rise and drop,” explained LPN Meghan Maul. “Jocelyn is insulin dependent. If she gets too much insulin, it can drop her sugar to low levels. A lot of times she’s not aware if she is dropping. If she would drop low and not realize it, it’s a life or death situation. I help monitor her blood sugars and do dosing, and look after her numbers to keep her on track.”

Maul’s service to Jocelyn is invaluable during the school day, but since the nurse cannot be with the little girl around the clock, Jocelyn’s family is hoping to purchase a service dog that is specially trained to assist them in tending to the little girl’s dire medical needs.

“This dog will help out tremendously, especially at nights,” Maul noted. “The dog will be able to alert the family if she’s dropping 20 minutes before the Dexcom actually will, and I know with Jocelyn when she drops, she drops pretty quickly.”

Also, the dog will be able to wake the family if they sleep through alarms that indicate the girl’s situation is in need of immediate attention.  

Diabetic service dogs come with a hefty price tag — anywhere from 10,000 to 25,000 dollars.

To help cover the purchase price of the animal, the Yanzetich family is hosting a basket raffle to raise the much-needed funds. It is scheduled for Saturday, April 9 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Saint Michael School Hall in Loretto. All are invited to just show up at the door that day and purchase tickets for the baskets, which include themes such as Christmas, Easter, jewelry, and gardening. There will also be tickets for larger raffle items. A bake sale will also be part of the effort.

“The more people we can push through the hall, the more money we can put toward the dog, and hopefully she can have the dog for 10 years, and when Miss Meghan is no longer with us, it will be extra help for Jocelyn to learn how to manage her blood sugar,” said Vanessa Yanzetich, Jocelyn’s mother. “I think if she ever wants to go to college, it would ease the stress of allowing her to go out on her own and have somebody to watch over her.”

Vanessa is very grateful to all those who are walking this journey with the family, including the Saint Michael School family, which does everything possible to accommodate Jocelyn’s condition.

“It was a big shock on us, and it was a big adjustment, but now three or four years in, we’re getting better with everything,” Vanessa added. “I just think the dog would be a wonderful asset to her health and our family in helping to keep her blood sugars at a good level because they fluctuate so much so fast.”

As Jocelyn looks forward to hopefully receiving a service dog soon, she’s also appreciative for her buddy, Miss Meghan. And the feeling is mutual.

“She makes me smile, she’s such a happy, pleasant little girl,” Maul remarked with a few tears in her eyes. “For her to go through this disease and have the positive that she does is remarkable. I think God brought me to her for a reason.”

[Photos: (Top) Jocelyn enjoying outdoor time with a feathered friend; (Inset) Jocelyn with nurse Meghan Maul.]