Aiden Heath, of Waitsfield, Vermont, was 4 years old when he was first diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Soon after his diagnosis, he learned about service dogs that were trained to monitor the glucose levels in people with his condition. But at a cost of $15,000, his mom explained it was something his family simply could not afford.
Still, she encouraged him to save his money, one penny at a time. So he did. He even nicknamed the little red wagon that he used to carry around his jars of coins — Brinks. Now, four years later, his dreams of adding a furry friend to the family have finally come true.
Aiden was about halfway to his goal of saving $15,000 when ABC News covered his story and his quest. Donations poured in from around the world and within 24 hours, Aiden had raised $20,000. His mom immediately put a down payment on a chocolate Labrador named Angel.
That was in April and since then, Aiden has watched Angel's training and growth through videos and photos. This week, his dreams of meeting his new Angel became a reality.
"Aiden is over the moon," Jenni told ABC News. The boy told his mother, "This is a dream."
It's a dream come true for Aiden's mother, too. Thanks to Angel's training, the female pup will be able to detect when his blood sugar levels drop too low, and she'll be able to do that 20 to 30 minutes before such a drop could be identified by a blood glucose meter. That is especially comforting at night when Aiden's blood sugar could crash while the family is asleep.
With Angel by his side, 8-year-old Aiden will have a new level of independence to go on playdates or even sleepovers with his friends and family — all of whom have been saving their pennies right alongside him to help the boy reach his goal.
"We have been so amazed by the outpouring of support," Jenni said. "He is feeling the love. There are no words."
You can see more of Aiden and Angel in this ABC News video: