STATE COLLEGE — Radio Park Elementary School second-graders are making it their goal to help turn Type 1 diabetes into “Type none.”
The class raised money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and in honor of classmate Sarah Fleury, 8, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in December.
Sarah was accompanied by fellow second-graders Averey Gummo and Maggie Vankirk. The three 8-year-olds, walking hand-in-hand, led a group of 75 second-grade students on a six-lap, one-mile walk around the track at the school Thursday morning.
The walk was one that second-grade teacher Mary Robert and her class took upon themselves to plan in support of Sarah and the JDRF.
“We have a really close-knit class and (they) are a great group to be around,” Robert said. “When they learned of the news, they completely took her under their wings and took the initiative to help.”
As a class, they often watch the clock, keep time and alert Sarah when it is time to check her blood-sugar levels and take medicine.
Robert also used Sarah’s diagnosis as an educational tool in the classroom so her students could understand what it meant to have diabetes, which was something Sarah said was appreciated.
“I learned to control my diet more, and my class has been very caring,” Sarah said. “They’re helpful and help me make sure my sugar levels are OK.”
Each student was clad in a blue JDRF T-shirt that read “Team Sarah” on the back.
State College Area High School senior Jordan Good also was invited as a guest speaker to encourage the kids to continue to help support the cause.
Good, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 11, will be playing football at Shippensburg University next school year and reassured the children that anything is possible, even with diabetes.
“When I got diabetes, I thought I couldn’t do the things I was always doing,” he said. “The message now to young kids is that this is something that doesn’t have to hold you back. You can get a lot of support and that can lead to a lot of positive things.”
But one of the more important things that Sarah’s classmates learned was something non-tangible — the value of friendship.
“Even though she has something like this, she’s still the same person; she’s still the same Sarah and friend I have,” Maggie said as she held Sarah’s left arm and put her head on Sarah’s shoulder during part of the walk. “Nothing, even diabetes, can replace who Sarah is.”
Through the school’s efforts, $3,757.13 was raised for JDRF.