Sports Spotlight: Aidan Johnson & Anakin – navigating type 1 diabetes together

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 2:45 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The balancing act of being a high school student and an athlete is a tough enough challenge in itself. Add in having to deal with a life-threatening disease and you might need some help. Aidan Johnson’s around-the-clock help comes in the form of a canine.

This yellow lab named Anakin is more than Aidan Johnson’s best friend.

“We found out in 2019. January 21 of 2019,” said Johnson.

That was the day that Aidan found out he had type one diabetes. At only 12 years old, he had to learn how to live with a life-threatening disease.

“I couldn’t feel my high and low blood sugars, and in the middle of the nights, I wouldn’t hear my monitor beeping,” said Johnson.

So, Aidan and his family turned to man’s best friend, and along came Anakin, all the way from Kansas.

“We had no idea what was going to happen. What dog it was going to be until he walked through the door. That’s when he looked at me, I looked at him, and he was mine,” said Johnson.

Later that summer, Aidan started high school, and after years of adjusting to living with diabetes, he had to adjust to life with Anakin at his side.

“At first, it was a little scary having to go everywhere with a dog. Everybody just trying to pet him. I adjusted to it, and now nobody bothers him. It’s just part of my daily life, just having him with me. If I go anywhere without him, it just feels like I’m missing half of me,” said Johnson.

Now a sophomore at Century High School, his other half is helping Johnson do something he did for more than five years before his diagnosis, and Anakin has a rink-side seat to it all.

“He’s taught me to know my surroundings more. How to calm down in big circumstances. How to take care of somebody and something. Just make sure his basic needs are met,” said Johnson.

Balancing diabetes, the checklist that comes with being a high schooler, and participating in sports isn’t a small feat, but one visit to the doctor four years ago created a friendship that’s made two halves, one whole.

“He’s just been such a good friend along the way too. Like, more than just a service animal, he’s become a person in our family. We can’t go anywhere without him, he’s just been there for all of us, and I just love him,” said Johnson

Aidan says he and the Johnson family will be celebrating Anakin’s third birthday in February.