Tuscarora is Trying to Outrun Diabates

By: MacKenzie Butler
LEESBURG, VA- Imagine battling something every day, but not ever being able to see it, and this foe is a disease that never leaves you once you get it and one that must be watched carefully every day. Here, at Tuscarora, there is a student that has this disease, battling it daily, and is trying to bring awareness to it.
Michael Stefanick, a junior at Tuscarora, is a standout athlete. Michael not only battles his opponent in the water, but silently battles his Type 1 Diabetes. Type 1 Juvenille Diabetes is a disease in which the pancreas stops producing insulin, because the body has killed all the insulin cells. A diabetic requires Insulin, which converts sugar in the body into energy. One of the methods of receiving insulin is through injections. “I was first diagnosed with Diabetes at age 11”. Stefanick remembers well how “it changed my life immediately, you know – one day I’m a ten year old with no worries, the next I’m 11, and having to give myself injections of insulin every day and check my blood regularly”. It’s a serious disease that can, if you let it, control your life.” I didn’t really understand what it all meant. Finally, my doctor put it into words I have never forgotten. He told me that “I have diabetes, it doesn’t have me.”
“I test myself at least 10 times a day; because I’m athletic. Testing is a tremendous benefit, and helps me control my diabetes”. The normal numbers for a person’s blood sugar are 80-120, but Stefanick has gone as low 30 and high as 600. He notes how “going low makes you feel dizzy, while too high makes you feel like you have the flu.” He jokingly adds “I’d rather be too low than too high”.
Michael, along with classmates Evan Cowling, John Johnson, and Maureen Dunn are working towards focusing attention on this disease. As representatives of their AP Biology and Advanced Marketing classes, and in partnership with INOVA Health Care and IPATH (an organization dedicated to educating and promoting healthy lifestyles of students), they have organized a 5K Run on May 21st 2011. “My main focus is to raise awareness and money for Juvenile Diabetes”, says Michael Stefanick. Students, who are interested, may sign up during lunch in the month of May. When asked why he chose to draw attention to this, he replied honestly, “Well, because I have it”.
In addition to the 5K race, these students are moving ahead with plans to raise awareness in fellow teens about how important healthy decisions can be. It is a project that is continuing throughout the year, with both classes coming together, organizing into five teams, with each team focusing on an event they have chosen.
Stafanick’s personal battle he faces on a daily basis has inspired him to organize this 5k run, but he doesn’t want to focus on the run, rather he wants to help out the “other teens that already have it, who are going to have it, who were diagnosed as teens and educate those who don’t have it- what the lifestyle of a diabetic can be like.” It’s not something you’re going to grow out of, get over, sometimes you lose and some days you win- but it’s a fight you never give up it becomes part of everyday life. What I would hope through my efforts to educate what it means to be type 1 diabetic, and those who don’t have it will maybe make a donation next time. My donation will hopefully one day lead to a cure.”