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Michigan woman writes picture book teaching kids about type 1 diabetes

'Teddy Talks: A Paws-itive Story about Type 1 Diabetes' stars the author's dog Teddy. He helps a young girl navigate her diagnosis.

PORTAGE, Mich. — A West Michigan woman used the pandemic and her dog to fulfill a dream. She wrote a children's book that's now a best-seller. 

An author from Portage hopes her book Teddy Talks: A Paws-itive Story about Type 1 Diabetes can help educate children about the condition. 

There's more than 240,000 children and teenagers with the disability. Regarding adults, that number skyrockets to 1.6 million.

You may have seen this Pomeranian on Tik Tok or Instagram before with the account @TeddyTheT1Dog. Teddy's been online for a while now, helping his human Vanessa Messenger promote her book. 

"It blows my mind that we've reached 1.3 million people all over the world," Messenger says. "It's been a lot of fun to share Teddy's personality with all these people."

The story stars Teddy, and he helps a young girl navigate her diagnosis.

"In the book, he talks about all the ways they fuel their fun adventures through healthy choices and all of the fun along the way," Messenger says.

This story is personal for the author. She was diagnosed with the condition in her twenties, and published her book almost a year ago with a special goal in mind. She wrote the book while pregnant with her first daughter at the start of the pandemic.

"I was really thinking how could I explain my condition to her when she's older, in a way that's encouraging and how she can easily understand," Messenger says. "It was a good use of time and a good passion project to get us through the quarantine and it was something uplifting to look forward to."

She hopes kids reading the book learn about diabetes and medical terms, whether they're diagnosed themselves or know someone who is. She hopes adults that have a dream like hers jump on it.

"I think we've all learned that the time is now and you have something on your mind and heart, go after it. You'll be surprised by the results," Messenger says. "I'm just so floored to see how well it's been received, and it's been really heartwarming and a big sense of accomplishment to give something back to my community."

Hundreds of copies have been donated to several children's hospitals. Part of the proceeds are going to clinical trials to find a cure for type 1 diabetes, and the book is sold at several major retailers.

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