Jennifer Guidi of Menifee knows all about the latter. In February 2013, her son Tristen was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, an illness that affects a person’s blood sugar levels and if untreated with insulin can be dangerous for any person.
For a boy like 6-year-old Tristen, who was born with Down syndrome, the illness becomes an even bigger threat.
In an effort to get help for her son, Guidi has organized a charity golf tournament and raffle March 8 at Menifee Lakes Country Club. The event is called "Bring Blue Home" -- a reference to the Diabetic Alert Dog (D.A.D) she hopes to purchase to help alert her to signs of trouble with her son.
A D.A.D is a dog trained to detect the insulin levels in a body and alert the person or those around if there is any increase or decrease in the person’s blood sugar levels.
This is extremely crucial for someone like Tristen who can’t communicate when he is feeling sick. The D.A.D would be trained specifically to Tristen’s body and would warn his parents or anyone watching him when his blood sugar is low or high.
Having a D.A.D would not only help Tristen, but help his parents, who constantly worry about their son’s health.
“The dog will sleep with Tristen and let us know if his blood sugar is low,” said Guidi. “I think the dog will not let us worry so much and give us more security.”
“Blue will cost about $15,000, which is a lot of money,” said Guidi. “Financially we’re hurting, but this dog could save Tristen’s life.”
Although Tristen is considered high functioning, his Down syndrome causes him to suffer a speech impediment that limits his communication skills. While he has built a vocabulary of up to 30 words, he can’t speak in sentences or tell people how he is feeling.
This becomes a risk factor for Tristen because he can’t tell his parents when he is feeling sick or low on energy --, concerning signs for anyone with Type 1 diabetes. Because Tristen can’t tell others when he feels sick, he has to be monitored all the time. Guidi said she had to quit her job as a supervisor at Loma Linda Hospital to take care of her son.
“He constantly has to be watched,” said Guidi. “There were times where he went to sleep and we thought he was just tired but it turned out his blood sugar was low.”
Guidi said it has been difficult, because not just anyone can watch Tristen. He constantly has to eat and even signs of sleepiness could mean that Tristen’s blood sugar is fluctuating.
Through doctor visits, finger pricks and close calls, Guidi said that Tristen has done really well and is just like any other kid. He loves the company of his younger brother Logan, enjoys many activities and the hardest thing for Tristen is being told no.
“Tristen is very mellow, easy going and rarely throws tantrums,” said Guidi. “He loves Disney movies, playing with Legos, going outside and is a bit of a bookworm.”
The entry fee for participants in the golf tournament is $160, with a dinner included. The raffle will be $20 per ticket, or $100 for six tickets. All proceeds will go toward the D.A.D. for Tristen.
In addition to the tournament and raffle, those wishing to donate money can donate online at “Watch out Tristen will Steal Your Heart!.”
For more information, call Jennifer Guidi at 909-856-6672 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guidi said that throughout this ordeal, she is amazed at Tristen’s amazing spirit and demeanor.
“If he wants to do something, he’s going to do it,” said Guidi.