Westborough Rotary Club secretary Bill Linnane called his 10-year-old granddaughter Madigan, "A walking encyclopedia on diabetes." Both Madigan and Bill's daughter Jenn have Type 1 diabetes.
On Tuesday night, Sept. 13, about 65 people gathered at to hear Madigan, Jenn, other local residents with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and staff from the American Diabetes Association (ADA), in an informative and insightful presentation on diabetes sponsored by the Westborough Rotary Club.
In addition to the speakers, Rotary president Paul McGrath presented a check for $3,500 to the ADA. Collecting registration fees from that was held on Aug. 14 raised these funds.
The meeting was launched with a stunning video, Walk With Me, written and performed by Dani Petrunic, and produced by Elizabeth Callahan, both 2011 Westborough High School graduates. Dani, who has Type 1 diabetes sings, "Come walk with me, I do what I want to do." This video won an award at the Alliance for Community Media Northeast Region Fall 2009 Film Festival.
Setting the groundwork for the meeting, Anna Floreen, associate manager of community initiatives for the ADA, presented an overview on diabetes. She said that 26 million adults and children in the US have diabetes. Ninety-five percent of these cases are Type 2. Anna said that 1 in 3 children now face a future living with diabetes.
Getting More Personal
Jenn Linnane shared her 16-year journey with Type 1 diabetes. An avid athlete, she described a typical day of testing her blood sugar, tracking carbohydrates, and determining how much short- and long-term insulin she needs. Jenn said, "It's amazing what your body can accommodate but you really need to listen to your body."
Jenn is a biker, swimmer, runner, and does cyclocross in the winter. She said that she's done about 50 triathlons in the past 10 years. She's participated in the North Shore TourdeCure wearing a red jersey that identifies that she has diabetes. Karen Bagley of the ADA explained that the red jersey is used to celebrate riders (and walkers) with diabetes.
Benny Hensley, son of School Committee member Jody Hensley, described his daily life with Type 1 diabetes. Diagnosed at the age of 4, the 13-year-old said, "As long as I do what I need to do, diabetes will never hold me back." His mother told Westborough Patch, "I was very glad to see the Rotary take the initiative to put on this meeting... (Benny's) diabetes management has become part of our family lifestyle. We try to find the silver lining when we can."
Madigan Linnane, the youngest presenter at age 10, has run a triathlon and plays the piano. Diagnosed at age 3, she said, "It took a while for my friends to understand diabetes. Sometimes they get me a drink or snack or get my glucometer and test my blood sugar."
Westborough resident Linda Reger gave a different perspective on her non-insulin dependent Type 2 diabetes. She said that she was surprised by her diagnosis. Linda has made positive changes to her diet and level of exercise. She said, “I'm not discouraged."
Nutritionist Barbara Casaceli, who works at the Outpatient Department of Marlborough Hospital as well as , discussed the nutritional side of diabetes. She said, "We live in a society with portion distortion. We have no clue what a serving size is." According to Barbara, small changes in diet can make a big difference in the management of diabetes.
At the end of the evening, with great flourish, Madigan Linnane reached into a clear bucket and pulled the winning raffle ticket for a quilt made by her grandmother, Anna. Jo Ventriglia, who has Type 2 diabetes, was the winner.
For more information on diabetes, and fundraising efforts, visit the American Diabetes Association.