Kids with type 1 diabetes are among the estimated 200,000 young people living with the disease in the United States. Each year, roughly 40,000 people are newly diagnosed with the disease. A diagnosis is challenging, especially for kids with type 1, but many are thriving and living inspirational lives.
Diabetes Self-Management and JDRF have a shared vision: to promote the advancement of type 1 diabetes research by spotlighting the dedicated sugar type 1 diabetes champions from across the U.S. In this series, we asked some young patients about friends, new tech, friends, advice and more.
Grant Leonard, 5, Gilbert, Arizona
How old were you when diagnosed with T1D and please describe your journey?
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes a few days before my 2nd birthday. I had to go to the bathroom a lot and was very thirsty. My mommy and daddy took me to the hospital and my blood sugar was over 700 and we had to stay there until they learned all about what type 1 diabetes was and what to do.
What is the hardest part about managing T1D? And how do you turn these challenges into positives?
I have to get shots and pokes everyday and sometimes I don’t like that. I know I have to because my pancreas is broken, but they hurt sometimes. I try each day to be strong and be brave. Someday I want to be a firefighter because I am so brave and will help people.
How did you become involved with the JDRF?
We did our first OneWalk with JDRF right after I was diagnosed and have done them since. I love my JDRF ladies. I give them hugs and sometimes bring them flowers.
Any JDRF community service projects or initiatives? Please tell us about them!
I have a walk team called “Grant and his Gang” and we have raised almost $50,000 dollars for JDRF with lemonade stands, our annual charity golf tournament and other charity events. I have talked to my preschool class and many other schools and businesses about type 1 diabetes and JDRF.
What have you found to be the most useful diabetes technology?
I am lucky to have my insulin pump and my Dexcom. My insulin pump makes it so I don’t have to get as many shots and my Dexcom helps me to stay in range and let mommy and daddy see my numbers when I am at school, playing sports, or at vacation Bible school.
How do your friends and family support you?
I have the best family…they take good care of me and help me find my strong and brave when I am tired. They love me so big!
What are some of your favorite activities?
I love to play soccer, swim, watch movies, play legos or Play-Doh and read books.
What is your favorite diabetes-friendly meal and why?
I love when my mom makes spaghetti squash with sauce and cheese. It is so good and only has 5 carbs in it.
What advice would you give to someone your age who is newly diagnosed with T1D?
It is hard sometimes but you can do it…You are brave and it will get easier. I know you can do it.
Want to learn more about caring for a child with type 1 diabetes? Read “Top 10 Tips for Better Blood Glucose Control,” “Writing a Section 504 Plan for Diabetes” and “Be Aware of Hypoglycemia Unawareness.”