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Chappaqua Girls Turn Family Health Issue Into Fundraising Effort

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Charlotte and Sophia Spiegel with their father, Glenn, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes early this year. The girls have raised about $4,000 for Heads Up Hounds, an organization that rescues and trains dogs to become Diabetic Alert Dogs.

Being diagnosed with diabetes can present an assortment of challenges and the need to make significant lifestyles changes.

A set of Chappaqua twins have undertaken a fundraising campaign to make the lives of some of the most severely impacted diabetics a little easier.

Charlotte and Sophia Spiegel, who are both completing seventh grade this week at Robert E. Bell Middle School, decided to raise money for Heads Up Hounds, a Nebraska-based nonprofit that rescues canines from shelters and trains them to become Diabetic Alert Dogs (also referred to as DADs) in about six months.

The dogs can sense dips or spikes in blood-sugar levels of the person who they are specially trained to serve, allowing the patient to take action to stabilize their levels before a medical emergency arises.

The sisters’ effort was part of their Mitzvah project in advance of their Bat Mitzvah last month. What makes their effort all the more personal is that four family members, including their father, Glenn, who was diagnosed last winter, have Type 1 diabetes.

“I think part of the reason why we got so connected to it is because when our dad got it, it kind of reinforced that (diabetes) actually runs in our family,” Sophia Spiegel said. “I mean we can get it.”

Charlotte and Sophia first learned of Diabetic Alert Dogs when their cousin, Joey, was paired with one last year. Joey, now 25, has been a diabetic since childhood. The dogs are trained through the scent of the person they will eventually be paired with.

With many Type I diabetics, problems with blood-sugar levels can occur overnight while they are fast asleep. That had been a concern with their cousin who is now teamed up with his dog, Mozzy.

“The diabetic alert dog would wake him up if his insulin is low and he would wake him up,” Charlotte said.

The significant role played by the Spiegel sisters and others who raise money for Heads Up Hounds and similar organizations is that the training of these dogs is expensive. Depending on the type of dog and the organization involved, they can run from $8,000 to $20,000 each, according to the website Most of the dogs are acquired free of charge but the person who will be paired with their DAD must pick up the training tab.

Charlotte and Sophia have raised about $4,000 through their fundraising project. Although their Bat Mitzvah is over and their project’s obligation has been met, they have no plans to stop fundraising for Heads Up Hounds.

“When you do something for charity it makes you feel a little more into it and you definitely want to do stuff like this again,” Charlotte said. “It just makes you feel good about yourself because it helps make another person have an opportunity.”

Their mother, Allison, said not only have they turned what could have been be a difficult situation with their family into a positive, but they will be helping other families, including children their age and younger.

“I’m proud that they’ve turned in something that’s been hard on our family and will help others, especially other children because it’s hard enough to deal with it as an adult,” she said.

For more information on Charlotte and Sophia Spiegel’s efforts and to contribute, log on to For more information on Heads Up Hounds, visit







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