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Although $600 might seem like a lot of money for the average teenager, it is just the tip of the iceberg for one Cheshire teen.
To 13-year-old Jennifer Frederick, a few hundred dollars is just the beginning of her fundraising effort. Frederick has diabetes and she recently started a Web page that provides an easy way for people to donate to her cause – finding a cure for diabetes. While most teens worry about their friends and schoolwork, Frederick has an added worry – her glucose levels. Although, speaking with her, you wouldn’t even know she had a potentially debilitating disease because she has lived with diabetes for as long as she can remember.
“I’ve had diabetes for 11 years,” Frederick explained. “I was 2 years old when I was first diagnosed. It’s completely normal for me.”
But, in an effort to help others, Frederick started a Web site around Thanksgiving, and has already raised $600. She plans to keep the site up and running for a year to raise as much money as possible for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
“I don’t have an ultimate goal, but I hope people will be generous,” Frederick said. “I want to raise as much as possible.”
Having Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes hasn’t slowed Frederick down in the least. She attends a camp for girls with diabetes each year and said that some of her friends there are scared to go back home and start school again because of their disease. Frederick says she has diabetes, but refuses to let it define who she is or stop her from achieving her goals. The confidence she exudes is something she hopes others with diabetes will find in themselves.
“I don’t remember not having diabetes,” Frederick explained. “Having it has been easy for me. I won’t let it change who I am.”
Frederick teaches her friends about diabetes and what they can do to help her if her blood sugar levels ever drop. She wears an insulin pump, eliminating the need for daily shots and she carries a glucose monitor.
Frederick has also visited Quinnipiac University and Cheshire Academy to talk to students about managing diabetes and to encourage them to participate in diabetes fundraising walks throughout the year.
“Hopefully, one day we’ll find a cure for me and the many other people with diabetes,” Frederick said. “I love being a part of this.”
According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 15,000 children are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes each year – about 40 children each day. Since its inception in 1970, the JDRF has raised more than $1.3 billion for diabetes research, yet a cure remains undiscovered.
Worldwide Diabetes Day was on Nov. 14, according to the American Diabetes Association, in an attempt to raise awareness. Each year there is a different theme, and this year’s was caring for children and adolescents with diabetes. John Buse, president, Medicine & Science, with the American Diabetes Association, said it’s important for parents to know the symptoms because Type 1 diabetes can be “misdiagnosed initially.” Some of the common signs are frequent need to urinate, unusual thirst or hunger, fatigue, and unexplained weight loss. He added that it was important for everyone to understand the disease because caring for a child with diabetes is a full-time job.
“Caring for a child with diabetes requires attention 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Buse said. “It is critical that family, educators, and policy makers are more aware of what is required so that children with diabetes have an opportunity to live normal and happy lives.”
On her Web site Frederick explains that, through donations, more research can be done to some day find a cure. “I need your help to raise money for research in hopes that we will find a cure soon,” she writes, “hopefully within my lifetime.”
To visit Frederick’s Web site, go to www.firstgiving.com/jennfrederick. For more information on juvenile diabetes, visit www.jdrf.org.