Seth Benson looks pretty much like any other sixth grader. But unlike most kids his age, he battles a disease every day that not only limits what he eats, but his ability to participate in regular school acivities.
Seth, the son of Heather and Thomas Benson, was diagnosed a year ago with type 1 diabetes, often called juvenile diabetes. And, on Saturday, October 11, he will be walking in the “Step Out for Diabetes” walk and fun run in Grand Rapids to raise funds to combat this life-changing disease.
According to WebMD, Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s own immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. Insulin’s main role is to help move certain nutrients, especially sugar, into the cells of the body’s tissues. Cells use sugars and other nutrients from meals as a source of energy to function. In people with type 1 diabetes, sugar isn’t moved into the cells because insulin is not available. When sugar builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, the body’s cells starve for nutrients and other systems in the body must provide energy for many important bodily functions. As a result, high blood sugar develops. Over time, the high sugar levels in the blood may damage the nerves and small blood vessels of the eyes, kidneys, and heart and predispose a person to atherosclerosis (hardening) of the large arteries that can cause heart attack and stroke.
Seth must be monitored closely, but Heather said that he handles it pretty well. “He makes several trips to the office during class to have his sugars tested. He also has to take his lunch to the office so he can get his insulin injections based on what he picked out that day. Sometimes, depending on his sugar level, he cannot participate in gym class or other physical activities. Classroom snacks also have to be taken to the office so he can get dosed.”
Basically, he gets a dose of insulin for everything he puts in his mouth. This makes eating out, something kids enjoy, difficult. “We count carbs for everything. Buffets are not an option or a lot of fast food or restaurants. Halloween can be tricky, as well as family gathering or any situation where there is homemade food,” explained Heather.
But Seth still gets to enjoy kid activities. He plays rocket football, is a Boy Scout, and this past summer went to The American Diabetes Camp for kids. He has to be careful though, because if he gets sick with a cold or injured, his sugar is hard to manage.
“We want nothing more than to find a cure for this disease, and are hoping it will be in his lifetime!” said Heather. “That’s why we are walking in the Step Out Walk on Saturday, to raise money for a cure.”
The money Seth is raising goes to help find a cure. If you would like to donate, go to stepout.diabetes.org and click on donate. Then search for a team, and type in Seth’s Saints.