A Ventura woman who helped people jumpstart their mornings with a jolt of java at Starbucks in Santa Barbara years ago needs a boost of her own.
The former barista is battling a series of health issues while fighting to save her vision.
“I think what I miss the most is being around people. I’m such a people person,” said Sarah Popke, whose family lives in Santa Barbara.
Now, the 30-year-old is hoping to become more of a dog person.
Popke’s coffee career came to a grinding halt three years ago when diabetes stole the vision in her left eye. The disease is now slowly robbing what’s left in her right one.
“Not being able to drive. I kinda depend on everyone else to get places,” Popke told NewsChannel 3. “Not being able to work. Sitting at home all the time is tough.”
Popke was recently put on the national Diabetic Alert Dogs of America registry for a specially trained dog through the American Kennel Club (AKC).
“We’re going to be naming him Lancet, after what you use to test your blood sugar, the needle,” said Popke.
But the special dog comes at a steep price: $15,000.
Insurance won’t pay a cent and without a paycheck coming in, Popke’s family turned to the public for help through the free fundraising website YouCaring.com and created her own page at dogforsarah.com.
So far, the site has helped raise more than $3,300 dollars.
But the clock is ticking. For the next six months, the AKC dog will undergo special diabetic training.
“They take tests of my saliva when its at different bloods sugars,” said Popke. “They use that to train the dog. He’s trained specifically to know my scent.”
Eventually, the chocolate lab that Popke chooses will alert her when her blood sugar level is critically low, saving her from seizures and diabetic comas, something she’s endured for years.
“I’m really excited to take that step where I can kind of get back to a normal life.”