My best friend's run

Diabetic student hosts 5K fundraiser for alert dog

Ferris student Megan Yuhasz-Pratt has been a brittle type one diabetic for 10 years.

Brittle type one diabetes is characterized by drastic changes in blood sugar at a very quick rate.

“Anyone who knows or has been around a brittle diabetic knows how quickly they can crash,” Associate Professor of Medicinal Chemistry Dr. Tracey Boncher said. “Insulin pumps help patients whose blood sugar levels get high, but we don’t have anything to help them when their blood sugar levels crash.  Without any help they can die.”

After beginning her professional program in Respiratory Therapy, Yuhasz-Pratt realized she was going to be on her own soon and it was time to make a move.

“I still could not fall asleep due to anxiety of not waking up the next morning,” Yuhasz-Pratt said. “All of my seizures happened at night.”

Yuhasz-Pratt collaborated with Boncher as well as fellow diabetic Josh Blackmer and his father Larry. Together, they developed the idea and implementation of the 5K to raise money for diabetic alert dogs.

“My family and I have tried everything on the market to help control my diabetes,” Yuhasz Pratt said. “We looked into dogs when they were first being trained, but did not have the funding and felt like we couldn’t get the funding for this dog.”

Yuhasz-Pratt has experienced three seizures, one of which resulted in a concussion that put her a month behind in schooling.

“Diabetes has affected every single thing in my life,” Yuhasz-Pratt said. “Being brittle, I do not go more than a half hour without thinking about what my blood sugar is doing.”

She has also experienced being paralyzed for a short time, black outs, extreme headaches, extreme anxiety and disorientation that lasts for about an hour.

“This [diabetic alert] dog is trained to smell the fluctuations in her blood sugar and will immediately alert her or authorities if her blood sugar gets out of the safe zone,” Boncher said.

According to Yuhasz-Pratt, on average these dogs can detect a change 40 minutes before any meter would detect it.

“Megan is a wonderful young lady and this diabetic alert dog will definitely save her life,” Boncher said.

The dog will also be able to hit an emergency button and seek help if its owner was to become incapacitated.

“She will be my constant companion and, as my boyfriend calls her, my guardian angel,” Yuhasz-Pratt said.

Yuhasz-Pratt is also a student conductor for the Ferris State Pep Band.  She uses her passion for music to help her deal with the hardships of the disease.

“If I am about to pass out, struggling and weak, I sing through a song and the melody keeps me conscious long enough for help to arrive or sugar to kick in,” Yuhasz-Pratt said.

The 5K was held on Saturday, Oct. 18 at Top Taggart Field. .

The fundraiser raffled off donated items and even had an after party including a live performance from the local Balsam Brothers.

If you didn’t get the chance to attend the fundraiser, you can still contribute to the cause by visiting Yuhasz-Pratt’s website: