Seeing blue sheds light on diabetes

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  • LOREN BENOIT/Press Standing next to her mother, Lyndsey Neufeld, Hailie Neufeld reads an excerpt about her fight with Type 1 diabetes to a crowd gathered on the lawn of The Coeur d’Alene Resort Monday night at “Light up the Town Blue 2017.”

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    LOREN BENOIT/Press The Coeur d'Alene Resort switches to blue lights for diabetes awareness Monday night at "Light up the Town Blue 2017."

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    LOREN BENOIT/PressBystanders gather around a Coeur d'Alene firetruck Monday night at "Light up the Town Blue 2017."

  • LOREN BENOIT/Press Standing next to her mother, Lyndsey Neufeld, Hailie Neufeld reads an excerpt about her fight with Type 1 diabetes to a crowd gathered on the lawn of The Coeur d’Alene Resort Monday night at “Light up the Town Blue 2017.”

  • 1

    LOREN BENOIT/Press The Coeur d'Alene Resort switches to blue lights for diabetes awareness Monday night at "Light up the Town Blue 2017."

  • 2

    LOREN BENOIT/PressBystanders gather around a Coeur d'Alene firetruck Monday night at "Light up the Town Blue 2017."

By BRIAN WALKER

Staff Writer

COEUR d'ALENE — Eleven-year-old Hailie Neufeld's statistics on having Type 1 diabetes for the past three years includes 13,140 finger pokes, 182 pump insertions and 110 blood glucose test insertions.

But her desire to create awareness of the disease? Priceless.

Neufeld spoke to about 70 people on the lawn of The Coeur d'Alene Resort on Monday night for the second Light up the Town Blue awareness event.

"When I was diagnosed, I was honestly extremely frightened that I was going to die or even just not be able to go back home and never see my friends again …, " the Coeur d'Alene girl said.

But Neufeld said she has learned to adjust to the condition.

Since she was diagnosed, she earned a black belt in taekwondo and is on a demonstration team for the sport.

In school, she's been able to keep her grades up and, when she graduated from the fifth grade, she earned the Academic Excellence Award and Improvement Award.

Along Hailie's side on Monday were her family and companion dog, Rory, that senses when her blood-sugar levels are abnormal.

"She has saved my life several times," Hailie said of Rory. "She is my best friend like my mom (Lyndsey) said, but she's also my sister."

People with Type 1 diabetes, also commonly referred to as juvenile diabetes, don't make insulin.

Treatment can help, but the condition can't be cured. Symptoms include excessive thirst, frequent urination, rapid weight loss, increased appetite, fatigue, headaches and vomiting.

Both types of diabetes are chronic diseases that affect the way a body regulates blood sugar, or glucose, which is the fuel that feeds a body's cells.

Hailie and Lyndsey presented gift bags to about 15 kids who have been diagnosed with diabetes and each of the youths stated how long they've had the disease and what they want to be when they grow up. The length of time ranged from three weeks to seven years and career aspirations ranged from artist to nurse anesthetist to Leonardo of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

This year organizers of the awareness event teamed up with the nonprofit Halo's One Hope to raise funds through a raffle for three local families to be determined who have a newly diagnosed child with Type 1 diabetes.

Lyndsey described the first two years after Hailie was diagnosed as the most difficult of her life as she was a single mom.

"My boss at the time told me to 'lay my worries at the foot of the cross,'" she said. "As hard as it was to do it, it got me through the darkest of times. From that point on, Hailie and I decided we wanted to make a difference."

To parents of children with diabetes, Lindsey said they are their children's pancreas and life support.

"I know it's hard to see your child struggle, but you can do this …," she said. "Hold your head up high. As for our little type ones, you are all superheroes."

Hailie led the countdown to turn on the blue lights at The Resort, and Coeur d'Alene Mayor Steve Widmyer read a proclamation proclaiming this week as Diabetes Awareness Week. Guest appearances by the Coeur d'Alene police and fire departments allowed kids to have an up-close look at their vehicles.

Both types of diabetes affect 29.1 million people in the United States — 9.3 percent of the population — and it is the seventh-leading cause of death.

"An increase in community awareness of risk factors and symptoms related to diabetes can improve the likelihood that people with diabetes will get the attention they need before suffering the devastating complications of the disease," the proclamation states.

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