Boy with diabetes saves pennies for 4 years to get service dog
Aiden Heath's collecting of pennies paid off today as he came face-to-snout finally with his very own service dog, Angel.
"Aiden looked at me and said, 'This is a dream,'" his mother, Jenni Heath, told ABC News today.
Soon after Aiden, 8, of Waitsfield, Vermont, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes four years ago, he learned about canines trained to help monitor glucose levels in people.
"They can sense it 20 minutes to 30 minutes before the blood meter actually tells you that you're low," Jenni Heath said in an earlier interview.
Each service dog costs $15,000 so Jenni Heath encouraged her son to save, one penny at a time.
And that's what he did for little more than four years, even nicknaming the little red wagon that toted his coins around "Brinks."
In April, when Aiden was about $9,000 from his goal, news coverage of his effort helped bring in donations from across the U.S. Almost overnight, Aiden raised more than $20,000 and he and his mother put a down payment on a dog in Nevada.
Jenni Heath said Angel, a chocolate Labrador, had been trained from April until recently and had passed all her tests. She said she and Aiden had followed Angel's progress with videos and pictures.
Earlier today, around 10 a.m., Angel arrived from Nevada to the Heaths' home. Jenni Heath said today that with the help of a trainer, Aiden and Angel were starting to get to know each other and Aiden was learning how to command Angel.
"Aiden is over the moon," Jenni Heath told ABC News. "He was on pins and needles waiting for her."
She said that Angel would give her peace of mind, particularly at night, when it came to testing Aiden's sugar levels. She said that Angel's presence would also give Aiden a sense of independence.
On Tuesday, they all planned to head to Aiden's school to meet with school staff as well as students.
"We have been so amazed by the outpouring of support," Jenni Heath said. "He is feeling the love. ... There are no words."