After a whirlwind few weeks, Grace Prep Academy freshman Payton Stevens has a new furry friend to help him stay healthy.
Payton suffers from diabetes. His classmates at Grace Prep in Arlington were raising money to help him buy and train a dog. Then, some big names stepped in to help.
There were a lot of people who stepped up to donate money a couple weeks ago, but it was a former Dallas Cowboy and his wife who saw Payton’s story and knew they could help.
Step by step, Payton is slowly becoming friends with his new service dog. The freshman baseball player suffers from diabetes. If his blood sugar drops too low while he's sleeping, he could slip into a coma. His parents set alarms every night.
"One of us goes to bed a little bit earlier than the other. The other one stays up and checks his blood before we go to bed,” explained John, Payton’s dad. “And the other one wakes up at 2 o'clock in the morning to check his blood, and do it again when you wake up at 4 to go to work."
Payton was the focus of a dance-a-thon at his school which raised $35,000 for a diabetic service dog.
But when former Dallas Cowboy tight end Jay Novacek and his wife Amy saw FOX 4’s story, they decided to donate one of the service dogs they breed on their Johnson County ranch to Payton. The dog will sense changes in his blood and alert him or his parents.
"This is amazing,” Payton said. “I mean it all came together so quickly."
"They'll get to sleep a whole entire night, which is amazing,” Amy said. “And for a parent, it's tough when you're worried about if your kid's gonna be alive in the morning."
But while the service dog was donated, it still needs to be trained. That is the most expensive part of the process. The money from the fundraiser is in a separate account and will go toward the cost of training, veterinary care and other related costs.
"Whenever I go off to college, my parents don't have to worry about me,” Payton said. “I mean I have a dog here to alert me if anything goes wrong."
Amy suffers from Addison's Disease and requires a service dog, too. She helped Payton form a quick bond with his new dog.
Payton has named his 6-month-old Labradoodle “Grace.” already has a name. He’ll take the dog home for 4 or 5 months to get used to her. Training could take around a year to complete.