SMALL VOICE, BIG MESSAGE

Helena 4th-grader to speak to Congress about funding diabetes research

2013-07-03T17:15:00Z 2013-07-03T17:18:13Z Helena 4th-grader to speak to Congress about funding diabetes researchBy PEGGY O’NEILL Independent Record Helena Independent Record

The worst thing about having type 1 diabetes, William Matz says, is missing out on the birthday treats his classmates bring to school. The 9-year-old Four Georgians fourth-grader can handle the four finger pricks a day to test his blood sugar and four insulin shots a day. After eight years of those daily routines, William says he’s used to it. It’s the other types of disruptions to his day that make him wish he didn’t have diabetes.

“A couple of times I’ve missed most of lunch because my numbers are low,” William said. “Sometimes I miss recess. If I don’t get an extra snack during sports I might get sick.”

He’s even had to leave his classroom in the middle of a test to visit the nurse’s office for his insulin shot, something he really didn’t want to do.

“It’s really hard,” William said about having diabetes.

William will share what life with type 1 diabetes is like with members of Congress next week when he and his parents, Brian and Heidi, travel to Washington, D.C., to participate in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Children’s Congress. William is one of about 150 kids from around the United States between the ages of 4 and 17 who will visit with lawmakers July 8 through 10 to try to convince them to continue funding for diabetes research. JDRF Children’s Congress has been convening every other year since 1999.

William and his 150 traveling companions were chosen from about 1,500 applicants. As part of the application process, William had to write an essay about why he wants a cure for diabetes to be discovered.

“A cure for diabetes is important to me because I would get to be normal and do things like other kids,” William wrote in his application. “I would get to eat foods with sugar in them a little bit more. I would not have to go see the doctor as often as I do now. I also want other kids not to be sick with diabetes like me. I think money for finding a cure for diabetes will help my pancreas get fixed.”

For a 9-year-old, William knows a lot about diabetes. Although he doesn’t yet administer his own shots, he does know how to test his sugar levels and how to draw the insulin into a syringe. William is also a champion fundraiser for JDRF; he has three trophies for participating in the Walk to Cure Diabetes. This year he raised more than $2,200 in donations.

William was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes five days before his first birthday. According to his dad, Brian, his symptoms were frequent urination and constant dehydration.

“We thought he was sick from something else,” Brian said.

So it was a shock when the diagnosis came back as diabetes.

“We’d had this perfect, healthy baby,” said William’s mother, Heidi, “then we were told he had a lifelong disease.”

William has a brother and two sisters, all younger than him and none of whom have diabetes. The family makes lifestyle choices to accommodate William’s health needs. Heidi prepares most meals from scratch and prepares special sugar-free desserts.

“Two days ago my mom maid coffee cake,” William said excitedly.

And for William’s birthday, which was in May, Heidi made treats he could share with his entire class — sugar-free popsicles.

Copyright 2016 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(1) Comments

  1. steeline
    Report Abuse
    steeline - July 03, 2013 5:45 pm
    One of the best ways to avoid diabetes is don't get fat. There are way too many fat people out there. Just take note the next time you go to the grocery store. And look at what is in their basket. No wonder. Fat people have more health issues than those who are not fat. Slim down you can do it and it is good for you, your family and our country. If your are self made fat person people notice.

Civil Dialogue

We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Name-calling, crude language and personal abuse are not welcome. Moderators will monitor comments with an eye toward maintaining a high level of civility in this forum. Our comment policy explains the rules of the road for registered commenters. If you receive an error after submitting a comment, please contact us.

If your comment was not approved, perhaps:

    1. You called someone an idiot, a racist, a dope, a moron, etc. Please, no name-calling or profanity (or veiled profanity -- #$%^&*).

    2. You rambled, failed to stay on topic or exhibited troll-like behavior intended to hijack the discussion at hand.

    3. YOU SHOUTED YOUR COMMENT IN ALL CAPS. This is hard to read and annoys readers.

    4. You have issues with a business. Have a bad meal? Feel you were overcharged at the store? New car is a lemon? Contact the business directly with your customer service concerns.

    5. You believe the newspaper's coverage is unfair. It would be better to write the editor at editor@helenair.com. This is a forum for community discussion, not for media criticism. We'd rather address your concerns directly.

    6. You included an e-mail address or phone number, pretended to be someone you aren't or offered a comment that makes no sense.

    7. You accused someone of a crime or assigned guilt or punishment to someone suspected of a crime.

    8. Your comment is in really poor taste.

    9. Don't write a novel. If your comment is longer than the article you're commenting on, you might want to cut it down a bit. Lengthy comments will likely be removed.
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick