May 2, 2008
‘Go, Maggie, go’
Virgil students help in effort to stamp out diabetes
VIRGIL — Virgil Elementary School students shouted, “Go, Maggie, go,” as fifth-grader Maggie Kelly led school and community members around the figure-8 track on school and town property Friday afternoon.
They all walked to support the American Diabetes Association and Maggie, who has Type 1 diabetes — childhood diabetes that results when the body no longer produces insulin. This is the second year of the walk, which is part of a national campaign by the American Diabetes Association.
Maggie learned of her diagnosis in June during a routine physical for summer camp, said her father, Jim Treichler.
Siobhan Kelly, Maggie’s mother, said Maggie has to test herself four times a day and gives herself up to six shots a day. “She has a terrible, terrible fear of needles,” she said, adding Maggie can’t watch others getting shots or someone getting a shot on TV.
“I’m pretty much needle phobic,” Maggie said Friday afternoon, during the school’s diabetes walk.
“I got used to them (shots) after a while and my grandparents paid me for every shot,” she said. Maggie said she was earning a $1 a day from her grandparents.
Maggie said she is shy.
“I don’t really like attention that much,” she said, but she likes bringing attention to childhood diabetes.
“She’s a trooper,” Treichler said. “I’m impressed how well she has adapted.”
Siobhan Kelly said the school has been very supportive of her daughter. Virgil School Principal Lynn New said the school nurse, Jennifer Fecco, has talked to the fifth grade about diabetes and lets Maggie’s friends come down to the nurse’s office with her.
The week before the walk, Deena Samhammer, associate manager with the American Diabetes Association office in Syracuse, came down and did individual presentations to the classes and gave each child a packet with an envelope for pledges, New said.
“I love this project,” Samhammer said of the School Walk for Diabetes program. She said last year she supervised eight or nine walks in her territory, which extends from Syracuse down to Ithaca and out to Rochester.
“The whole school is behind Maggie,” Samhammer said.
New said she was impressed with the number of parents and grandparents who attended, many of whom walked.
At least 30 adults walked. After the walk the school’s Parent Teacher Organization gave the children water and a healthy snack, made with cereal and pretzels.
New said last year the American Diabetes Association mailed her a packet about the walk and she decided to support it. At the time there was a sixth grader with diabetes. She said the school raised $1,000 last year, but had set a goal of $2,000, also the goal this year.
“People have been going online and making donations,” New said at the end of the walk. She said pledges were made, but were not dependent on how many laps students made. She did not know how much was raised yet, but was hopeful it was more than last year.
“We raised about $2,000,” Maggie said with confidence. She said boxes were put “all over the school” to collect change.
Samhammer said more children are coming down with Type 2 diabetes, which had typically occurred in older adults. In this type of diabetes insulin is not properly used, and obesity and lack of exercise contribute to the disease.
New said before Samhammer came, the students could not tell her anything about diabetes, but this morning they could relate facts about the disease.
Maggie said she did not know anything about diabetes when she was diagnosed.
“I was really mad,” she said. “I was surprised.”
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