LH Elementary raises diabetes awareness
By ANTHONY FLORES
Diabetes affects 34.2 million adults in the United States. It is the nation’s seventh leading cause of death, and in the last 20 years, the number of adults with diabetes has doubled.
Liberty Hill Elementary students hosted a walk for diabetes to raise awareness on National Diabetes Awareness day.
Coaches Kasey Faurie and Demi Tatsch worked to organize the event with the backing of the Liberty Hill ISD. Students wearing their shirts or the color blue walked around the track during their PE class.
“Last year, we didn’t celebrate it like I wanted to, so this year, I wanted to make sure to make it a special day,” said Faurie. “I asked her to design a shirt, and she came up with the design. Then I asked the administration for permission to sell the shirts district and community-wide, and they approved.”
She reached out to local custom apparel store Two Brand It to help with their fundraising efforts. Funds raised are donated to the Junior Diabetes Research Foundation.
“I talked to Two Brand It and asked them if they’d give a percentage to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and they agreed to give $5 per shirt,” said Faurie. “I think our community ended up buying 267 shirts.”
Serving as the inspiration for raising awareness in the Liberty Hill community, Tatsch was diagnosed with type one diabetes when she was six years old.
“Type one you usually get when you’re a kid. You’re usually born with it,” Tatsch said. “I was diagnosed when I was six. Sometimes you don’t find out until a little bit later. It’s been a special day and a special month for me. It’s a day I celebrate every year, and this has been the biggest year yet.”
Type one diabetes is believed to be caused by an autoimmune reaction that causes the pancreas not to produce insulin. Type two diabetes is related to dietary and lifestyle choices. People can live for months or even years without knowing they have diabetes.
Using her own situation, Tatsch helped her students understand more about type one and two diabetes.
“I talked to the kids about type one and my daily routine with it. I think they learned a lot from it. I know kids might not fully understand this at their age, what type one really is. Now they know that I’m type one and a little more about the difference between type one and two. The kids have been excited and really sweet about it.”
Tatsch celebrates diabetes awareness every year but had to adjust her original plans in August.
“I was going to do a JDRF Ride to Cure bike ride. I joined the Austin team and we were going to do a 100-mile bike ride in Wisconsin this summer in August,” she said. “That was when I was diagnosed. It was on August 6. So my ride was going to be on August 6. We weren’t able to do it because of COVID. Each rider that was type one would wear a blue jersey. We’re going to try again next year.”
For Kristy Truitt, an active volunteer parent at the elementary school, the importance of raising awareness can’t be understated not just for kids but for adults and parents of children with diabetes.
“It’s a very important thing. For type one, it’s not the lifestyle that caused this. It could be something as simple as an illness that attacked the pancreas,” she said. “That’s what happened with my son. He was sick before and that illness attacked his pancreas, and now he’s type one. He was five years old at the time, and just the thought of having to give him a shot was scary. It’s that fear. You have a little bit of a fear of what could happen to him.”
Truitt’s son Caleb is 22 now, and since he was diagnosed, medicine and treatment of diabetes has come a long way. Truitt believes this is why events like the LHE diabetes walk and fundraising are crucial.
“This meant even more money so that they could support research. They’ve come a long way just in the 17 years that my son has had it. Every little bit is going to help,” said Truitt. “I want parents to know to just be supportive of them, and we don’t know the pain that they’re living with. Just be there and be the support that they need.”
Faurie is proud of what they have accomplished and knows it’s working. She sees it in the reaction and excitement of her students.
“The day we launched this, it was a very emotional experience to watch her all day asking the kids who wanted to be on her team to find a cure. To see them all raise their hands and then see them arrive here in their shirts or wearing blue is emotional. Them being aware is what this is all about.”