Blue Out game raises $5,000 for T1D

By Nikki Blankenship -

Two local girls and their high school basketball team have raised over $5,000 to benefit Type I Diabetes, a cause that is especially close to their hearts.

Aubrey Boland, 17, of Portsmouth, and Mackenzie Brown, 17, of Portsmouth, (both students at Notre Dame) have both had their own unique experiences growing up with the disease that has been commonly, and inaccurately termed juvenile diabetes. Though the disease is most commonly first diagnosed in youth, Boland explained that it is a life-long disease with no prevention or cure that attacks the pancreas.

“There is nothing we could’ve done to have prevented it,” Boland commented during fundraising efforts in November.

She added that currently, it is believed that Type I diabetes is caused by environmental factors.

Brown explained that people often confuse Type I with Type II by thinking the disease is caused by eating too much sugar or that it can prevented by changing one’s diet.

Boland was first diagnosed when she was 15. She was experiencing extreme thirst, was tired and had lost a lot of weight. Her mom thought she had a cold. When, she wasn’t getting any better, she went to be checked and ended up in the hospital for three days.

Boland explained adjusting to having Type I was a long process. Her biggest adjustment was the shots, Boland stated. She now checks her blood sugar at least four times a day. She added that the disease also affects her emotions. Stress causes changes in her emotions. She added that it is difficult to deal with the day-to-day requirements of the disease.

“Sometimes you just don’t want to deal with things,” she stated.

Brown was diagnosed even younger than Boland – at the age of nine. She had been ill with bronchitis and just was not getting any better. Brown too was having symptoms like Boland. She lost 10 pounds in four days. She was always hungry but having trouble digesting food. Brown was also sleeping more than 10 hours a day. As a very athletic teenager, her parents assumed that Brown was just responding to all of her sports responsibilities, but soon they had to accept that something was wrong. Brown’s doctor immediately knew what was wrong and checked her blood sugar. Normal blood sugar ranges are between 80 and 120. Brown’s blood sugar was over 700. She was rushed to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, where she is still treated currently.

When Brown was diagnosed, she said she was terrified of needles. However, needles have now become a regular part of her daily life. She is now on an insulin pump that attaches to her with a needle that remains inside of her body. She still has to check her blood sugar regularly. However, she added that she is looking into getting a continuous glucose monitor that takes continuous readings of her blood sugar and are available to patients on a tablet or their smartphones. Despite all the technology available, Brown explained that the disease is still difficult to manage, even when those with Type I do everything correctly.

Brown explained that Type I is a disease that people know very little about. Boland added that she knew nothing about the disease when she was diagnosed. With the disease being so foreign to her, it was even worse for her to cope with her diagnoses.

Together Boland and Brown work with Kings Daughters Medical Center Portsmouth Dietician Malissa Sarver (who is also the parent of a child with Type I) to spread awareness throughout the community.

Because November is Diabetes Awareness Month, Boland and Brown figured this was a good time to get their school and community involved in working for a cure. As part of this goal, they spoke to their athletic director, who agreed to start the season with a Blue Out for Type I Diabetes foundation basketball game, which Portsmouth High School agreed to participate in. With this help, the girls raised a total of $12,000 in November 2015 and 2016, $5,000 of which was raised during this basketball season.

The proceeds of the game have gone to further Type I research and to assist those battling the disease.

“The girls presented three checks today,” Brown’s mom Kim Brown explained Friday.

The checks went to the Southern Ohio Medical Center (SOMC) Type 1 Diabetes Fund, Ohio Valley Type 1 Diabetes Group started by Kings Daughter’s Medical Center’s Dietitian Malissa Sarver and the Scioto Foundation’s MacKenzie Brown Type 1 Diabetes Scholarship Fund. Brown and Boland will also be presenting a check to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). The proceeds awarded came from the Type 1 Diabetes foundation basketball game held in November as well as money raised money through fundraising, donations, and sponsors.

In addition to donating funds, Brown also a framed project piece to SOMC Pediatrics a project piece from the T1D kids that attended Brown’s “Pumped On Insulin” camp. The piece included a framed signed photo of all of the T1D campers and 2016 Riverdays candidates that attended the Pumped On Diabetes Camp last July, Children’s books on Type 1 Diabetes and literature and educational posters about Type 1 Diabetes from Beyond Type 1.

Not only will these funds help to find a cure, they help local families with resources and provide continuing education and support to the local area. It is through the determination of two young girls and community support such as the foundation game that these things are possible.

For more information about Type I Diabetes, to get involved or to attend a support group, contact Sarver at 740-991-1430.

By Nikki Blankenship

Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1930 or on Twitter @nikkib45653.

Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1930 or on Twitter @nikkib45653.