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Counting down to diabetes walk

Thandiwe Vela
Northern News Services
Published Friday, May 25, 2012

Sitting on a picnic bench in his downtown backyard on Tuesday, eight-year-old Adam Naugler rattled off his blood sugar levels, which he had vigilantly monitored over the past 24 hours.

"Nine-point-eight, twenty-one-point-seven, twenty-three-point-three, fifteen-point-three, six-point-one, three-point-zero," he continued. "I have to poke my fingers eight or nine times a day (to check).

Good blood sugar level can be between four and eight millimoles per litre, but the Weledeh student is type one diabetic, and his blood sugar levels have been at times above 33—the highest his monitor can register—and as low as 1.6.

"Anything under two-point-eight is considered critical," said his mother, Tara Naugler. "That's when he can have seizures and pass out."

Adam, who loves hockey, curling, and swimming, is like any typical elementary school kid, but is very mindful of his condition.

He needs insulin 24 hours a day because his pancreas does not function at all, in addition to three needles each day for additional insulin to counteract what he eats.

"When we gave him his first needle it was kind of shocking," Tara said, recalling the day four years ago that the family found out Adam had diabetes. "No parent, I would assume, ever thinks they'll be giving their child a shot."

Adam is the only kid he knows that has type one diabetes but his friends are supportive, and have been counting down with him until May 27, when the Telus Walk to Cure Diabetes is taking place at the legislative assembly.

His goal is to raise $2,000 this year. He has already raised $1,075 and his family is also fundraising with his team Plants vs. Diabetes.

"It's about the support and showing him it's good to get out there because if we don't, then the doctors don't have our support and the researchers don't have our support," Tara said. "So we have to work as a community to show that we are wanting a cure."

Both Tara and Adam are hopeful that a cure will be found for diabetes by the time he graduates from high school.

"I won't have to poke my fingers, I won't have to get a needle," Adam said. "It would be funner."

Adam follows research developments on diabetes and was excited to hear that a cure has been found, in animals.

"I get magazines I read every month," he said. "They tested it on mice, it worked."

Proceeds from the walk go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which has moved research into human clinical trials.

Registration for the walk is Sunday at noon, and it is not restricted to only those who have been affected by diabetes, said organizer Don Finnamore.

"Anybody could come," he said.

Between 20 and 40 participants are expected at the weekend event, which Finnamore said has been held annually in Yellowknife for about 10 years.

More than nine million Canadians are diabetic or pre-diabetic, according to the Canadian Diabetes Association. Roughly 10 per cent of those are type one.

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