Local 12-year-old with diabetes launches Etsy shop to raise money for diabetic alert dog
When 12-year-old Chase Mazur was diagnosed with type one diabetes last year, his life was drastically changed.
However, the Houma native hasn’t let his diagnosis slow him down. Just the opposite, it has resulted in a business venture, an incredible fundraising experience and a new furry friend that will become a valuable part of Chase’s journey.
Chase was diagnosed with type one diabetes in October after experiencing extreme illness since last summer.
His mother, Kristie, said that things seemed off with Chase for a while, but when he fell sick with a terrible virus in October, she knew further tests were needed. When Chase visited his pediatrician, they learned that he had lost 13 pounds in one week. Thus, the pediatrician did a finger prick to check Chase’s glucose levels, which were dangerously high.
“I was 475, and the normal glucose [level] is like 100 to 125,” Chase said.
Chase was immediately rushed to the emergency room, where he was admitted to Terrebonne General Medical Center before being brought to Children’s Hospital New Orleans.
Chase and his family learned he was in diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a life-threatening complication that results from prolonged high blood sugar levels.
“They kind of told us that if they hadn’t pricked my finger…that night or later that week, I probably could have like fell into a diabetic coma or possibly passed away in my sleep,” Chase said.
Chase began to take charge and learn everything he needed to know about being a diabetic, from diets, to carb-counting, to understanding insulin.
A month after his diagnosis, he began to use a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to track his blood sugar levels. At first, while Chase was still at home and slowly transitioning to his regular activities, the CGM proved to be effective.
However, when he picked back up with travel soccer, the CGM began to be an issue.
“It would start losing signal, and I wouldn’t be able to see my blood sugar, and so…it would take a little bit to reconnect,” Chase said. “I check my blood sugar before practice, after practice and in the middle of practice, but your blood sugar can drop immediately in seconds.”
On one particular instance, Chase said his blood sugar had registered around 130 when he began practice, which was an acceptable level. He said he began to feel bad but attributed it to being tired from running.
When practice was over, his CGM was showing a lost signal. As he was walking back to the car, it reconnected and showed he was at an “urgent low.”
“I was 56 with two arrows straight down, which means I was dramatically dropping,” Chase said. “The lowest I’ve been is 42, and that’s like very dangerous, so it was very close to something happening: me having a seizure, passing out, all of that kind of stuff.”
Chase said he knew at that point that he wanted to explore different options for monitoring his blood sugar levels, as the CGM was also proving to be unreliable and showing incorrect levels that he would double check with a regular monitor.
“I was the one that made the decision that I just wasn’t going to continue using the CGM if I didn’t feel comfortable with it,” Chase said.
Thus, Chase began to research service dogs and whether they could be trained as diabetes alert dogs. He learned that diabetes alert dogs had a high success rate, and he was drawn to the idea.
A diabetes alert dog has the ability to sense a chemical reaction that alerts a person to changes in their blood sugar levels 30 minutes before they begin to feel the effects. In addition, such dogs can be trained to grab items a diabetic person may need, such as a juice box from the fridge or the person’s pricking set.
Chase said his grandparents told him that if he found a dog in a reasonable price range that he felt would be a good fit for him, they would buy the dog for him. Thus, he began his search for the perfect dog.
“It turned from an hour, to two hours, to three hours, to four hours of me sitting on my iPad on the couch, looking at dogs, just trying to find the perfect dog,” Chase said.
Chase said that diabetes alert dogs have to have a strong nose to sense problems with his blood sugar levels, so he narrowed his search down to four breeds: labradoodle, goldendoodle, border collie and Australian shepard. His dream, he said, was to find a goldendoodle.
Around 1 a.m. that morning, Chase came across a four-month-old goldendoodle that checked off every box and, on top of that, was the “cutest dog in the world.”
“I think Jesus kind of came down and gave me a little very special gift. He was like, ‘You know what, I’m going to give you this dude,’” Chase said.
Chase’s family reached out to the seller, who agreed to put the puppy on hold while they further discussed purchasing it.
Shortly after, though, Chase received an email that the dog had been sold. Heartbroken, Chase said he accepted that the dog wasn’t meant to be, so they decided to look into the dog’s brother instead.
Chase’s grandparents came over to his house later that night to discuss the dog. When he met his grandma inside, Chase said she had her phone out filming him, which he thought was strange.
Chase then turned to see his grandpa entering the house with the dog right next to him. As it turns out, Chase’s grandparents had purchased the dog that morning and drove to Franklinton to pick him up and surprise Chase.
“When I tell you I started screaming and jumping up and down, and I looked to them and I was like, ‘Are y’all just pranking me?’” Chase said.
Chase decided to name his future alert dog Beaux River as a combination of two names that he and his family had liked.
The next step would be getting Beaux trained as a service dog, which would take roughly two to three years.
However, the cost of training in Houma ranges anywhere from $1,500-$3,000. Chase decided he wanted to raise money for Beaux’s training, around $2,000, but he wanted some sort of labor to be involved.
Thus, he decided on an Etsy shop where he would sell homemade beaded bracelets.
“I’ve always been like the more crafty kid…and so I was like, you know what, I kind of like this, and—not trying to brag—but I’ve always kind of been good at it, too,” Chase said.
With the help of his mother and sister, Chase designed a logo and launched the shop, called SummerSomethin, roughly two weeks ago.
He advertised the shop on various social media platforms, including Instagram, Pinterest and the latest app to gain popularity among young teens: TikTok. Kristie shared the shop on her Facebook page, and his father shared it on his LinkedIn page.
Immediately, Chase began to receive an influx of orders, even from people in other states.
“A lot of people had been kind of seeing it, especially on TikTok,” Chase said. “I didn’t think people were going to buy, especially strangers that I did not know.”
In the two weeks since the shop opened, Chase has already reached half of his goal. Though he has been busier than he ever imagined trying to get a high volume of orders made, the experience has been rewarding for him.
“It’s kind of been like a hassle in getting everything done, but I am fine [with that]…The fact that I have already raised half of the amount the money that we would like to get [for] our goal is beyond me, and I’m so happy and so thankful for everyone that’s bought the bracelets,” Chase said.
Now, the shop has evolved to include rings and necklaces as well.
Chase said he has always sought to view his diabetes diagnosis as something positive. He’s especially thankful for the support and understanding he’s seen from his friends and family, as well as the friends with diabetes, known as “diabuddies,” that he’s met along the way.
He also said he’s grateful for the opportunity to run SummerSomethin and raise money for Beaux.
Though Chase’s impressive business skills would make him consider being an entrepreneur one day, he said he would love to be an endocrinologist or diabetes educator down the line to help people like him to navigate their diagnosis.
“I really want to be an endocrinologist, kind of to be the same person that got me diagnosed with type one and everything else. When you get diagnosed with type one diabetes, it definitely changes your life for the rest of your life,” Chase said.
Chase’s Etsy shop can be found at https://www.etsy.com/shop/SummerSomethin?ref=search_shop_redirect.