Missouri Post Supports Diabetic Child

Nearly $23,000 was raised by Post 2657 and Auxiliary members in one day to purchase a much-needed service dog for a 7-year-old girl

Addison Hartman is a lot like other 7-year-old girls. She likes playing with dolls, horses and Legos, loves climbing trees and singing and dancing. Most of all, Addison loves her dog, Radar. But the Irish Doodle is much more than the child’s pet.

Radar is Addison’s service dog. Wherever Addison goes, so goes Radar, including to school at New Bloomfield Elementary School. He even sleeps next to her each night.

With type 1 juvenile diabetes, Addison’s blood sugar has to be monitored frequently. Radar was trained by the National Institute for Diabetic Alert Dogs in Redding, Calif., to alert Addison when her blood sugar spikes or bottoms out. Once alerted by Radar, Addison tests her blood to see if she needs an insulin injection.

7-year-old Addison Hartman with her service dog, Radar, an Irish Doodle. Radar cost $18,000 and was purchased with funds raised by Post 2657 and its Auxiliary in Fulton, Mo. With type 1 juvenile diabetes, Addison has to have her blood sugar levels closely monitored. Radar has been trained to alert Addison of a dip or spike in her levels.
Post Supports Diabetic Child

Addison's last service dog, Keeper, was hit by a car and killed earlier in 2016. Not only was it devastating to Addison and her family to lose Keeper, considered a member of the family, it was a time of uncertainty because a replacement dog would cost $18,000. And that didn’t include the cost to travel to northern California to pick up a new dog.

That’s when Post 2657 in nearby Fulton, Mo., got involved. Steve Harding, president of the Post’s Men’s Auxiliary said members decided to organize a fundraiser in July with the goal of raising $6,000. Harding and Men’s Auxiliary member Gary Young were the driving forces behind the goal.

In three weeks’ time, members pulled together a fundraising event, which included silent and live auctions, for the Hartmans. When it was all said and done, the family received a $22,447 check and flew to California in August.

Harding said it wasn’t too hard to get people involved with the event and that it seemed like everyone in town helped out.

“There was not one person or business that was asked that didn’t give something,” Harding said.

The all-day event included a variety of games, raffles and even a dunking booth. The Fulton Fire Department was on hand for the entire day. Firefighter and VFW life member Todd Gray said he knew Addison because he had been at her school making a fire-safety presentation.

Harding said that everyone who won at Bingo or in raffles that day donated the money back to the family.

“The majority of people who showed up didn’t even know the Hartmans,” Harding said. “It was amazing to see so many people help.”

All told, some 500 people attended the event, which was well covered by the Fulton Sun newspaper.

“I think our efforts really snowballed after folks saw it in the paper,” Post 2657 Commander Larry Underwood said.

A group of vets also agreed to have their heads shaved during the festivities. People donated money to watch the group lose their locks.

“Without a doubt, this was the most gratifying thing I have ever done,” Harding said.

Harding’s wife, Joni, took an instant liking to Addison and remains in contact with the family. She visits on occasion and on one such visit, found out that Radar needed a bed. She “volunteered” her husband.

He made an elevated bed for Radar that sits right next to Addison’s bed.

“This is all still sinking in,” said Addison’s mom, Melinda. “We never expected anything like this at all.”

Melinda noted that in the short time between Keeper’s death and the family getting Radar, Addison’s diabetes got worse. Her glucose levels were increasing, which affected her organs.

That’s why getting Radar — a brother to Keeper from another litter — was so important.

“What the VFW did for Addison is so wonderful,” Melinda said. “We are never going to forget this.”

The Post hosted a meet-and-greet with Addison and Radar in September.

“He goes where I do, and everyone always wants to pet him,” Addison said about Radar. “He’s such a good dog. But he gets scared when people are really loud.”

This article is featured in the February 2017 issue of VFW magazine and was written by Janie Dyhouse, associate editor, VFW magazine. Photo by Tim Dyhouse.