BROWNSVILLE — Diabetes affects more than just the adult population.
News center 23s Na'Tassia Finley has more on a new group whose goal is to teach children how to self manage the disease.
Eight year old Marlen is happy and healthy, but that wasn't always the case.
"I remember driving home from Harlingen thinking my daughter is going to die on me; I don't know what to do," says Marlen’s mom, Mayte Gutierrez.
Marlen has type one diabetes and after her diagnosis, her mother learned there were very limited resources in the valley that help families with children with diabetes.
"No one has to live like this and have that happen to their child because there are no resources," says the mother who went on the become the HOPE president.
So she and several others did something about it... "HOPE for Kids Living with Diabetes", a new support group for children with type one and type two diabetes.
Thomas is nine, a part of the group and pretty well educated about the disease; he was diagnosed just a year ago, and it initially threw this kid for a loop.
"Just completely shocked. I was like, “What have I done, have I been eating too much sugar?”, but type one diabetes is when it just happens, when you don't even expect it. It's an autoimmune disease," says Thomas Edge.
He says now that he knows how to eat properly, how to check his blood sugar, he feels so much better than he did before he was diagnosed. His mom wants other children to realize they too can live normal lives despite dealing with this lifelong disease.
"We felt it was important to start a group to that could empower kids to be independent managers of their diabetes," says Thomas’ mom, Felecia Edge, VP of HOPE.
The Brownsville Community Foundation has gotten behind the group, and donated $3,500 to help jump start the group’s efforts. That money will go towards getting an out of town pediatric endocrinologist, Steven Ponder, to come to the valley to assist families with children who have diabetes.
"He is going to be doing workshops for the diabetic kids in Cameron County that have signed up," says Ruth Gates, HOPE Board Member who also manages type one diabetes.
After the doctor’s departure, he'll stay in touch through telemedicine.
Besides having to check their blood sugar levels regularly, these two kids, are just like every other kid out there. They just know they have to take care of their bodies a little bit better if they want to keep playing hard.
If you'd like more information on Hope for Kids Living with Diabetes you can contact the group at 956-204-3530 or visit their website at http://www.hope4kidswithdiabetes.com/ .