Luke and Jedi — A Documentary about a Boy’s Best Friend


 
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Editor’s Note: The Luke and Jedi documentary campaign has met their fundraising goal of $25,000.

I was 9 years old, standing outside of my home when I first got the news. My grandmother got off the phone with my mom who was at Children’s Hospital DC with my oldest sister, Jackie. When she hung up the phone, she said,” Jackie has been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.” I remember crying because I was scared. I did not know what Type 1 diabetes was. Several days later, my mom and Jackie came home from the hospital. It was then that I was able to see what the diagnosis really meant. Almost everything in our lives changed, as did my feelings. I was angry, confused and worried. My mom taught me and my middle sister, Stephanie, how to give Jackie shots, check her blood sugar and what to do if Jackie were to pass out. She explained to us the science behind T1D, and the implications the disease would pose on Jackie’s everyday life and ultimately our lives too. Jackie may be the one with T1D, but we would be in it with her, always, as a family.

Fast forward 15 years, to present day, and my feelings of sadness and frustration towards the disease have dwindled. They are not gone forever though; nor do I ever expect them to vanish. It is hard to accept that I am powerless over T1D. There is nothing I can do to make it go away for my sister, or prevent any other child, teen or adult from being diagnosed. However, as I have matured I have learned the difference between being powerless and being helpless. Although, I am powerless over T1D, I am not helpless. I can do my part in raising awareness and educating the world on the disease.

I always knew I wanted to do something to raise T1D awareness. It wasn’t until one unsuspecting day my friend Kara approached me to be a producer of a documentary she was directing. Naturally, I was interested. Kara explained the documentary would be about a boy named Luke and his service dog, Jedi. She went on in more detail — Luke has T1D and has hypoglycemia/hyperglycemia unawareness. Jedi is trained to detect and alert if Luke’s blood sugars have gone awry. As Kara explained all of this to me, I knew in my heart this was it. This was my chance to raise awareness and educate the world on T1D.

After solidifying our partnership, with Kara as the director and myself as the producer, Kara and I spent quality time meeting with our stars Luke, Jedi, Luke’s mom and dad, and Luke’s siblings. These meetings helped us to realize the powerful story we had to tell. We were determined to “go big” with this documentary. So, we set up a 30-day Kickstarter campaign with a goal of $25,000. By day 14 of the campaign we had reached our goal.

With funds, and a solid following of people interested in hearing the story of Luke and Jedi, we began production. We filmed Luke and Jedi at service dog trainings, family dinners, doctor’s appointments at Children’s Hospital LA and playtime. We even filmed overnight to get a real sense of what 24 hours around the clock looked like for Luke and Jedi.

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With thousands of hours filmed, tears shed and stories of inspiration told, we now have powerful footage of the highs and lows of living with T1D. We have finished production and are in the process of editing the film. Novices to documentary making, we have come to realize our “go big” $25,000 Kickstarter campaign was not as “big” as we originally thought. As a result, we are in need of donations to complete the film.

Personally, it has been a truly touching and profound experience to have the opportunity to dig deep in interviews with Luke’s family, to film the beautiful relationship between Luke and Jedi, and to witness another family’s struggle with T1D. When I first set out to make this documentary, my goal was to make a difference in the conversations people were having around T1D. What I didn’t know was the difference making this documentary would have on me as an individual. If there is one take away from the story of Luke and Jedi, it is that no matter who you are, where you are from, or what you do, you are never alone in T1D, there are other people who share your story.

For more on the story of Luke and Jedi visit HERE.


Learn more about Diabetic Alert Dogs (DADs) and read What to Consider Before Getting a Diabetes Alert Dog by Maggie Jones.

WRITTEN BY Carla Romo, POSTED 05/23/16, UPDATED 12/09/17

A transplant from the DC metropolitan area, Carla has always had a fascination with entertainment. She graduated college early and moved to LA to pursue her career in documentary film and TV. Currently, Carla is producing a documentary, Luke & Jedi, and is a casting producer for major TV shows. While working gig to gig, she makes sure to set aside time for passion projects. She was deeply affected by her older sister's Type 1 diabetes diagnosis, and is now eager to inspire others to take time out of their busy schedules and take note of the value of life. Carla is always looking to expand her creativity and push herself to the limits when an important opportunity comes her way.