Local youth diabetes ambassador working to boost research, find cure
SUMMIT COUNTY – In seventh grade, Hannah Barton had been sick for a while with what doctors thought was strep throat when she dropped 10 pounds in a week – the final sign she needed to get to The Children’s Hospital in Denver right away.And if she hadn’t arrived when she did, she would have gone into a diabetic coma. Her blood sugar, which at a normal level is between 70 and 80 mg/dL, was between 700 and 800, she recalled. It was then that doctors diagnosed the now-freshman at Summit High School with type 1 diabetes, a disease she has no family history of.In that moment her life changed, and today Hannah, 15, is a youth ambassador with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). This weekend she will be part of a fundraising event for the foundation to further research for better treatment and a cure.
At the gala Saturday, at the Denver Marriott City Center, Hannah will be part of the entertainment, doing a dance with other youth ambassadors from around the state. Also, her parents are volunteering to help with the auction.JDRF is working “to be on the cutting edge of technology … It’s a very exciting organization to be part of,” Hannah said.According to the foundation, Hannah is one of the more than 13,000 children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes each year. The mission is to find a cure for the disease and complications, which can include kidney failure, blindness, heart disease, stroke and amputation. JDRF, founded by parents of children with type 1 diabetes in 1970, funds a major portion of research, and in 2006 the organization provided more than $122 million for research of the disease that affects about 3 million Americans.
For Hannah, it was the stress of being sick that likely made the diabetes “pop up,” said her mom, Cathy Barton. And looking back now, they can see the signs. Before being diagnosed, Hannah was drinking an excessive amount of water, was lethargic and losing weight.Now, she manages her diabetes with four shots of insulin every day. She and her family all went through training to learn how to give the injections, how to eat and everyone was tested to help with research.And in addition to doing what she can for research, Hannah helps educate her friends about diabetes. Some have misconceptions, like thinking she can’t have sweets, she said. Hannah helps them understand the disease that certainly hasn’t slowed her down.
This year, she played on the volleyball, basketball and lacrosse teams at the high school. Also, she can still go on all-day hikes, overnight rafting trips and camping, her mom added.”It hasn’t stopped her from doing what she likes. … It’s amazing how well you can manage it,” her mom said.Lory Pounder can be reached at (970) 668-4628, or at email@example.com.
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