An advocate for diabetes

Carson Magee, 10, will represent Idaho at Washington, D.C., event

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COEUR d'ALENE - Carson Magee's life changed forever on June 30, 2010.

The Coeur d'Alene boy was just 7 years old when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Since then, he has had at least 6,200 insulin injections and tens of thousands of "finger pokes," to draw drops of blood to check his blood sugar level.

Carson, now 10, has also become a very active advocate in the fight to find a cure for the disease. He is now preparing to head to Washington, D.C., where he will represent Idaho at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's Children's Congress.

"Our goal is to raise awareness," Carson said.

He said he plans to thank members of Congress for federal support for diabetes research programs. He plans to meet with members of Idaho's Congressional delegation while in the nation's capital.

There is one research effort Carson is particularly excited about."They're working on this thing called the artificial pancreas," Carson said.

Type 1 diabetics will still require insulin injections, but the device would make it easier to monitor.

"It figures out how many carbs you eat and how much insulin you need," he said.

Before Carson was diagnosed with the disease, he remembers that he didn't want to play with other kids very much. He felt tired and had trouble concentrating.

He also was drinking a lot of water.

His family noticed just how much Carson was drinking during that year's Ironman triathlon in Coeur d'Alene. The Magee family volunteers during the event each year.

"He just kept drinking one Gatorade after another," said Carson's mom, Fondra.

During a visit to his physician, the doctor tested Carson's blood sugar level. It was more than 400.

"You want it to be between 70 and 120," Carson said.

Fondra said she didn't know anything about type 1 diabetes and learned that it is an autoimmune disease often triggered by a virus.

Carson was selected to represent Idaho at the JDRF Children's Congress from a pool of nearly 1,500 applicants.

He said he's looking forward to meeting some celebrities with diabetes while at the event: Mary Tyler Moore, Nick Jonas and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Carson said he's also excited about the opportunity to meet the other delegates, all children ages 4-17, who also have type 1 diabetes.

While he's lobbying for more research funds, Carson carries on.

He attends Ramsey Magnet School of Science in Coeur d'Alene and has invented several devices aimed at making living with diabetes easier.

There are good days for Carson, and some that are not so good, especially when his blood sugar level is too high.

"It makes you feel bad - tired and grumpy," he said.

And then there are all those shots.

"The only way I can really get through this is by God," Carson said.

Fondra said her son's faith is strong: "He inspires me."

Carson will be documenting his trip while he's in Washington, D.C. He and his mom will be sharing photos and posts on a special blog, carsonscruisers.blogspot.com.

For more information about juvenile diabetes and the JDRF, visit jdrf.org.

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