8-year-old diabetic takes fight to the White House

June 19, 2009 3:31:35 PM PDT
A South Side boy who is living with juvenile diabetes has been selected to visit the White House and meet President Obama. Type 1 diabetes is the most serious form of the disease. It accounts for at least $174 billion in annual health care costs according to juvenile diabetes research funding, or JDRF. It's estimated that 24 million people suffer from it. It happens because a person's pancreas stops producing insulin, the hormone needed to get energy from food.

A grassroots advocacy event takes place in Washington next week to raise awareness with lawmakers. One young man from Chicago has been chosen for a once in lifetime experience, to make sure no one ever forgets what its like to live with diabetes.

Eight-year-old Nicholas King has been battling Type 1 diabetes since he was diagnosed four years ago.

"The hardest part is probably high and low blood sugars, because when I'm low I have to sit out of gym, when I'm high I have to get insulin, and on the first day it kinda burns because it's still cold," Nicholas said.

Nicholas is hoping to spread his message on Capitol Hill when he meets with legislators next week. The third grader is the only delegate representing Chicago at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund Children's Congress.

Nicholas will be among 150 children ages 4 to 17 from around the country sharing what it's like to live with the illness. They will testify at a Senate hearing as they urge legislators to increase funding for research.

"One out of every 3 Medicare dollars goes into diabetes, so a cure for Type 1 diabetes will also benefit Type 2 diabetes," said Cindy King, Nicholas's mom.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that strikes children and adults suddenly, sometimes with fatal results. Nicholas knows those statistics very well and that it was inspired him to write a letter to Congress. In it he talks about finding a cure so that other children won't have to suffer like he does.

Eight times a day Nicholas has to prick his finger to test his blood sugar levels. He administers insulin through a pump. His mom is hoping that their visit with lawmakers will lead to a day where her son won't have to endure such trauma.

"We are very close to a cure," Cindy said. "It will happen in my lifetime, so I'm hoping we had our small part to get a cure."

Nicholas is scheduled to meet with President Obama and this is what he will tell him: "We really need your help because a lot of people are dying from the disease," Nicholas said.

Nicholas said he wants to survive diabetes so he can become a pilot, travel the world and educate people about the disease. He and his parents leave for Washington on Sunday, Fathers Day.

Nicholas says he is looking forward to telling his story and says he will not be nervous.


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