If you saw 10-year-old D.J. Smith, you’d never know he has diabetes, a chronic disease caused by the body’s inability to
produce or properly use insulin, a hormone that’s needed to convert food
The youngster plays lacrosse and basketball. His parents, Ed Smith and Janette Rosenbaum, say he doesn't let diabetes hold him back.
"Diabetes doesn't define him," Ed Smith said.
“You would never know he’s Type 1 unless you saw his pump,” Rosenbaum said.
An insulin pump, counting carbs and checking his blood eight times a day (including at 1:30 a.m.!) are all part of the normal daily routine for Smith, who was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when he was seven years old.
"We celebrate his diagnosis day every year. This year we went sky diving," Ed Smith said. "We celebrate because he isn't defined by his diabetes. He owns it and that's what's cool."
Since his diagnosis, Smith has become an advocate for diabetes awareness, speaking at community events, participating in fundraisers and serving as a Youth Ambassador for the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Youth Ambassadors support the ADA’s efforts to stop diabetes by empowering, educating, raising crucial dollars and advocating for themselves and other youth living with diabetes.
Smith has been such an outstanding Youth Ambassador that he was honored with the ADA’s Chairman Award for 2014 during a ceremony on Jan. 28.
“He was thrilled!” Rosenbaum said.
Smith is a fifth-grader at Fox Hollow Elementary, where school nurse Lori Benolken and other trained staff members help him manage his diabetes.
“Fox Hollow has done a really good job of taking care of him,” Rosenbaum said.
Smith also uses the Cherry Creek Schools website "carb counts" feature to determine how many carbohydrates are in any day's school breakfast or lunch. (You can find it at a http://cherrycreekschools.nutrislice.com/. Just select a school, a meal and a date to find the carb count for that meal.)
Smith is one of 174 students in the Cherry Creek School District who have Type 1 Diabetes. That’s about ten percent of the statewide total of school-aged children with Type 1. The Cherry Creek School District is the only large district in the state that has a registered nurse at every school. The district also has a diabetes resource nurse who works with school nurses district-wide to ensure the recommended standard of care for diabetic students.
“Research shows that a school nurse supports improvement of long-term outcomes for students with Type 1 Diabetes,” said Suzanne Oro, director of Health Services for Cherry Creek Schools. “Caring for a child with diabetes is a 24/7 commitment for families, so a school nurse can be a huge help to them.”
For more information about diabetes visit www.coloradokidswithdiabetes.org or www.diabetes.org.