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Seizing the reins in fight against juvenile diabetes
Times photo: Tere Dunlap Brittany Beckman, 11, gets a ride on 7-year-old Rony Pony, led by Jackie Boss, Saturday at the Cookout for a Cure held on the David and Krista Bethke farm southeast of Juda. Childrens games, pony rides, a jumping house and woodland walk were part of the activities at the fundraiser for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
JUDA - Abbie Bethke, 10, rural Juda, shrugged off questions about how juvenile diabetes affects her life, as she jumped off a pony Saturday.

"I get more snacks in class," she said.

Youths with Type I diabetes and their families attended the area's first "Cookout for a Cure," supporting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's efforts to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes.

Children had games and prizes, a woodland surprises walk, face painting, a jumping house, and pony rides to enjoy for the day. Bethke's parents, David and Krista Bethke, hosted the event at their farm.

While Abbie isn't too concerned about distinguishing her lifestyle from those of her peers, mothers can explain some differences.

One boy, age 12, (whose father did not want their names mentioned), was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes just two years ago.

He spoke softly, "I take my medicine, watch my meals ..."

"He takes four shots a day," his mother added.

Abbie explained testing her blood sugar, which she does four times a day by placing a drop of blood from her finger onto a paper strip.

"I test before meals, and if it's high, I have to test more," she said.

"Or if it's low," Krista Bethke said.

Abbie was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at age 23 months.

Besides frequent urination and frequent drinking, Abbie went into an almost-coma state with ketoacidosis, before being diagnosed, said her mother.

"They couldn't deny it then," Krista said with a slight laugh.

The Bethkes have two other children, Dawson, 6, and Analise, 20 months, neither of whom has been diagnosed with diabetes - yet.

"There is a 25 percent increase in a chance," of diabetes if a sibling has it, Krista said.

While setting up the "Cookout for a Cure," Krista said she found six other families in the area with a child with Type I diabetes.

Juvenile diabetes causes the body's immune system to attack islet cells in the pancreas, which metabolize carbohydrates. Without the islet cells to produce insulin, glucose (or sugar) begins to build up in the body, leading to acidosis or diabetic ketoacidosis, in which the body consumes itself and damages nerves and blood vessels.

But too much insulin can cause dangerously low blood sugar levels, leading to insulin shock, which can lead to coma or even death.

In 1922, scientists discovered an injection of animal insulin stabilized blood sugars. They assumed a cure soon would be found.

But 87 years later, children with juvenile diabetes still are watching their food intake, testing their blood sugar levels and taking insulin shots.

Corporate sponsors of Cookout for a Cure donated more than $1,000, even before the cookout started, Krista said. Other businesses, friends and family members donated meat and other foods and root beer on tap, and volunteered to give pony rides and supervised other games.