Knowing impacts of diabetes, high school student raises money for friend to get diabetes dog

As Diabetes Awareness Month approaches in November, a Darlington student is raising money for a life-changing helper.

High school senior Lexi Graham deals with diabetes every day. It’s been a part of her world for nearly eight years, and she knows how it changes everything.

“It impacts everything I do. From sports to work to school, it’s just every day,” Graham said. “I was one of those kids where you had to hold me down in the hospital to give me shots, then come to find out I have to do it the rest of my life was a big game-changer, for sure.”

Checking her blood sugar at least four times a day has since gotten easier, but learning someone else’s life is getting turned around is always hard – especially when it’s someone like 13-year-old Colton Ruf.

“It kind of made me sad,” Graham said. “I’ve known him my whole life. He’s like a little brother.”

Graham and Ruf have gone from sharing sugary treats as young children to comparing tools that keep their blood sugar in check.

“I hate to say that we both have something to relate to that kind of sucks, but being there for him is really great,” Graham said.

Part of being there for him means adding one more piece of gear. Graham is selling bracelets and keychains to raise money to get Colton a diabetes dog, which could detect high or low blood sugar by smelling saliva.

“That is huge, especially when somebody is sleeping, that can prevent a lot of difficulties like you not going so low you would pass out in your sleep or going so high you feel crappy,” Graham said.

Darlington HS senior Lexi Graham is raising money for her lifelong friend, Colton Ruf, to get a diabetes dog. Both share the diagnosis.

“I hate to say that we both have something to relate to that kind of sucks, but being there for him is really great.”#goodnews@WISCTV_News3

— Madalyn O’Neill (@news3madalyn) October 20, 2019

“I was kind of excited (and) thankful for Lexi to do that,” Ruf said.

Diabetes dogs can cost $15,000 to $20,000, so Graham said it’s a good thing the orders are pouring in.

“I’ve sold close to 300 so far,” she said. “I didn’t expect this many people to come forward as they did … I think almost half the middle school I feel like has messaged me and emailed me to get bracelets. It’s really awesome.”

“It’s cool seeing them all do that,” Ruf said. “It makes me happy.”

So far, Graham has raised nearly $1,000 and wants to continue until she can help change Colton’s life for the better.

“It’s a really good feeling — it’s all that hard work has paid off,” Graham said. “You know it’s going to something good.”

“Thank you very much, and thank you for helping me,” Ruf said.

To contact Graham, email

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