More than 15,000 children—approximately 80 people per day—are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes (T1D) in the United States each year.
And among those children, is Marshall’s Riley Williams.
T1D, commonly known as juvenile diabetes, is a condition in which a child’s pancreas no longer produces the insulin needed to survive. Children with type 1 must be given injections of insulin and closely monitor their diet, especially their blood sugar.
Though there is no cure for T1D, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) leads the way in funding for type 1 diabetes research, according to the JDRF website.
Marshall’s MESAC, a group of student’s elected to represent the student body, decided to join JDRF’s fight for a cure and raised about $3,600 through the month of November in order to help one of their own.
Williams was diagnosed with T1D when she was three years old after contracting Escherichia coli or E. coli from a hamburger at fast food restaurant.
E. coli is a bacteria that lives in the intestines of humans or animals. Although most strains of E. coli are harmless, others can make you sick causing diarrhea, urinary tract infections, respiratory illness, pneumonia and other illnesses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Williams specific case led to several infections throughout her body and caused some of her major organs to shut down. After contracting E. coli, Williams spent two years in the hospital and has had nine surgeries.
As a result of her organ failures, Williams was diagnosed with T1D.
Because William’s classmates were raising money for her disease, Marshall Elementary Principal Deb Erdmann wanted to make sure the students understood the disease.
Williams along with the school nurse, addressed grades 1-3 Nov. 8 explaining T1D and the things associated with the disease.
She explained how she has to take medication three times a day and remember everything she eats throughout the day so that she puts the correct amount of insulin into her body.
Williams also showed her classmates her insulin pump, which she must wear at all times. She has to change the insulin every three to four days, and if she is too low on insulin she sometimes has to take shots of insulin.
On top of insulin injections, Williams also explained how she has to monitor her blood sugar throughout the day, which results in six to 10 finger pricks a day.
The idea of shots and finger pricks drew many questions from her classmates who wondered if it hurt.
“It feels like a baby pinch,” William responded. Williams said she is just used to doing it though.
The idea of insulin also drew a lot of questions from students.
The school nurse explained that insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas that helps people digest their food better.
Insulin determines how high or low William’s blood sugar is, she explained. A normal blood sugar level ranges between 80 to 150 mg/dl. The highest blood sugar level William’s can reach is about 600 mg/dl and the lowest level is between 31 or 32 mg/dl.
“When you’re high you get headaches, Williams said, but when you’re low you just get sassy.”
Though Williams has to watch her diet more carefully than most children, she is just like any other third grade student.
“When it comes to eat, sleep and exercise, she can do everything we can do,” the school nurse said.