Help Nate Schuster Thrive Despite Type 1 Diabetes

For: Nate Schuster
Petaluma, CA
Organizer: Anastasia Schuster
$25,632
of $35,000 goal
73% Complete
Raised by 146 donors

The Story

Nate is a kid with an amazing heart and great sense of humor. Life hasn't always been so kind to him though. He struggled in school due to a learning disability and ADD coupled with immense teasing and bullying he experienced because he didn't "mature" as quickly as the other kids.

He lost confidence in himself not feeling he could succeed at much of anything as success seemed to always be just outside his reach. This led to a very poor self esteem, anger, frustration and depression.

Then, one month shy of his 15th birthday he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Add that to his previous struggles and raging hormones and our fun, loving Nate found himself overwhelmed with what his current and future life would be like.

Though he quickly caught on to all the steps needed to care for himself i.e. how to test his blood sugars, count his carbs, calculate his insulin and take the shots, he seemed to rally against this disease that will be with him for the rest of his life.

As time went on he started sneaking food and not taking insulin to cover for it. He became angrier, defiant and fell further and further behind in his school studies.

His blood sugars were out of control and kept creeping up. He had already landed himself in ICU once again since his diagnosis and was heading there again.

We had to take drastic measures as we saw the writing on the wall. Slowly, our son was killing himself. 

We knew the old Nate was in there and was worth fighting for so against his wishes we took him to Cedar Ridge Academy, a long-term therapeutic boarding school in Utah.

We got him there just in time...less than 24 hours after leaving him he was in ICU at their local hospital because he was for the third time in Diabetic Ketoacidosis. That was the LAST time his blood sugars were out of control.

Within two weeks Nate was thanking us for sending him to Cedar Ridge saying he understood why we did it and he knew he needed their help.

After six months there he has the best blood sugars he's had since his diagnosis nearly three years ago. Through the individual academic attention he's now passing ALL of his classes for the first time in his entire life...all B's and one C! And even more importantly, through the incredible therapy, love and support he's receiving he's learning to deal with this difficult disease and how to process through the anger and frustration that had built up over the years due to early school challenges and then intensified by his diagnosis.

Nate is THRIVING at Cedar Ridge, but he's not ready to come home yet. He still has a lot of work to do to get caught up academically and heal internally so he'll have the tools needed to be successful when he returns.

We exhausted our resources to cover the first six months, wiped out his college savings and borrowed to the max. Financially we had no where else to turn until friends suggested we reach out to others through a crowdfunding site.

This is one of the hardest things to do. It's easy to reach out to people on behalf of others and non-profits, etc., but to do so for ourselves is one of the most humbling experiences we have ever been through.

So it is with hearts of pure humility that we reach out now for your support. Not for us, but for our Nate. 

This school has been kind enough to offer us a scholarship rate of $5,000/month (that's much lower than most schools of this type) and we estimate Nate will need at least six more months up to possibly a year.

We're on a month to month basis and EVERY month longer that he's there is critical. 

Perhaps you're in a position where you can donate to sponsor him for a full month or perhaps you don't have $5 to spare or maybe you're somewhere in between. All we ask is that you consider helping him in whatever way you can even it's just by spreading the word...for who knows who you might know that can help financially. 

We haven't singled anyone out that we're communicating this to. We are reaching out to anyone and everyone we know...

Lastly we would covet your prayers. This has been a long hard journey for all of us, especially for Nate, but we're confident with the help he's getting and the support of our friends, family and those we may not know, but simply care...that there will be healing and we're going to end up with an amazing young man that will be an incredible light in this world.

We will keep you posted as this fundraiser continues to keep you up to date on how Nate is doing. 

We thank you in advance for your time and consideration...

Joe and Anastasia Schuster

Donations of any amount can be made through this site or can be sent directly to:

Cedar Ridge Academy

4270 West 5625 North

Roosevelt, UT  84066

Note:  Help Nate THRIVE

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on February 8, 2016

Posted on February 8, 2016

It’s been some time since we’ve given you an update on Nate, but honestly there wasn’t much to report and we were caught up with all that goes into expecting our third grandchild through Nate’s eldest sister. His new niece, Layla Alexandra, is a beautiful healthy girl born just a little over a week ago!

Nate has missed Alyx’s whole pregnancy, but we’re thrilled to share that he’s coming home to see his new niece THIS Thursday for one week! Woo hoo! This will be his FIRST home pass and given the fact that he’s been gone for nine months, that’s a long time to wait.

We are over the moon excited! And if being completely honest, a little apprehensive for we know this first trip back is likely to trigger emotions for him. You see, Nate has changed…we have changed…our home environment has changed…but our town hasn’t…his friends haven’t…all his old hangouts are still there, etc.

For this reason, on his first home pass, he will be with family only and we will avoid taking him to places that might trigger negative emotions. This trip is all about supporting him so he can ease back into what life here permanently will be like for him. This is the first of what will likely be three or four home passes before he is ready to be back for good.

So – good news – he’s making GREAT progress! He’s moved up another level…the one he was stuck on forever. We are hopeful the next levels will progress much faster now that he’s had a taste of success.

He’s passing ALL of his classes in fact getting all B’s with some very close to being A’s. NEVER in his life has he passed every class much less earned an honor roll GPA. :-)

Bad news – everything is taking longer than we anticipated. If you’ll recall right from the get go we had to estimate how long he would be there. Some kids are ready after eight months (VERY rare) and others take three years. We don’t anticipate the latter, but it’s evident he’ll be there longer than the budget we set for this fundraiser so we’ve had to raise it by another $5,000.

We do NOT want any of you who donated previously to donate again, please, you’ve done so much we’ll never be able to repay your kindness. However, you could help us just by spreading the word again. If you can share about this fundraiser on Facebook and put your personal comments in as to why you feel Nate is worthy of this support that will get much more notice than just a generic share.

Or perhaps you could just share it via email. Whatever you feel comfortable with. And more than anything we continue to covet your prayers.

Our next update will surely include photos from his visit out here. We can’t wait for you to see how strong and healthy he’s become!

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts…

Joe and Anastasia


Posted on December 31, 2015

Posted on December 31, 2015

We aren't able to have a Skype or call with Nate this week as it's a special student workshop week so their schedules are out of sorts. I did manage to get some photos of him from the school taken yesterday that I've posted to this page.

The Cedar Ridge Office Manager shared this:  "I just took these of Nate this morning… He is working hard and turned to give me a 2 thumbs up… The other is the Harry Potter Pen Wand he received for Christmas, he is pretending to use magic to do his homework… Ha ha…"

Yep, Nate who has recently read through the entire Harry Potter series has become quite the fan so he received a Harry Potter scarf and a few wand pens which he clearly is having fun with. Too bad they won't magically do his homework for him! :-)

He also received a book on writing poetry as that's a new interest for him along with an adult coloring book/pencil set from a friend of ours who has created them and sent them on to help him with "Mindfulness" and one of the books has pictures with inspirational quotes to focus on while coloring. He's SO happy to have them and I'm sure will be very relaxing and emotionally uplifting. He loves to draw so this fits right into another passion of his.

We'd be lying if we said Christmas without him was easy for all of us, it wasn't, but at the same time I feel we all felt a sense of peace in knowing that this is part of a healing process that will carry him for a lifetime. Next year will be very different and we're looking forward to 2016 being the best ever! 

Thank you each and every one of you for your incredible support...we are SO blessed!

Anastasia & Joe

P.S. If any of you are interested in knowing more about Type 1 Diabetes and how new technology is making all the difference, you may be interested in reading this fascinating article about a new company called Bigfoot Biomedical. It gives us incredible hope for the life Nate could live:

Meet the Bigfoot Family and Their Homemade Closed Loop System


Posted on December 22, 2015

Posted on December 22, 2015

Normally we would have had a Skype call with Nate this morning, but with Christmas this week the schedule is a bit off so we had a brief phone conversation yesterday instead.

We were concerned that Nate's spirits would be low because this Christmas he will be separated from family for the first time in his life. We are thrilled to report that his spirits are great. He understands why he needs to be where he is and is at peace with it. He knows this time next year we'll be together once again!

We've conveyed to him that though we've always focused on "family" during this time of year, it's really about reflecting on the birth of our Lord and the beginning of our faith. Also though, it's about love and caring for people. We know not everyone is of the same faith as ours, but most people do take this time of year to reflect on the true spirit of Christmas...peace on earth and goodwill to men.

So his Christmas will be spent with other students who are separated from their families and the staff who give so much to care for our kids where they'll all have the opportunity to be of support to each other. We told him this Christmas may truly become the most special one of his life for it's one in which he can focus on the things that really matter while not getting distracted by the usual festivities that we often get caught up in.

Nate's a huge fan of the Harry Potter books so we've suggested he could have fun with it by pretending he's at Hogwart's with Ron and Hermione for they stayed back vs. going home to their families for Christmas as well. Now granted, he's not going to get a Nimbus 2000 or a Firebolt, but there will be a few little somethings under the tree for him. :-)

Of all the gifts we've received over the years, what we have received from all of you has been the greatest! We will never forget this Christmas for the support you have given our son. Please know that what you have given is an investment into the life of a young man...you've given him the leg up he needs to live a long, healthy, happy life...gifts don't get much more valuable than that! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

May God wink at you this Christmas season...

Anastasia & Joe

P.S. It's been hard for us to see so many anonymous donations and not have the ability to more personally thank you. If you chose anonymous because you didn't want others to know, but are ok with us knowing please email us ([email protected]) your snail mail address so we can send you a simple card of thanks. However if you truly want your gift to remain anonymous we will respect that, but please know how appreciative we are of your love and support.

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