Valley View hosts dance-a-thon fundraiser

By: Lauren Gibbs, The Placer Herald
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Randy Wright, a sixth-grader at Valley View Elementary, knows the exact date diabetes came into his life. It was Sept. 15, 2009 and Wright just finished playing a football game. He was drinking lots of water, vomited and then passed out. He was taken to the emergency room, where he spent five days in the intensive care unit hooked up to an insulin IV. He was diagnosed with type 1, or juvenile diabetes. He’s still able to play football and other sports, but now has to stop mid-activity to prick his finger, to test his blood sugar level. Wright’s classmate Morgan Irwin has a similar story. Irwin was playing soccer last year when she had hard time breathing, became unusually thirsty and had shaky legs. She was also loosing weight. Doctors tested her blood sugar level and found it through the roof. “I was so confused when the doctors diagnosed it,” Irwin said. Both students haven’t let diabetes stop them – Irwin, like Wright, has managed to continue playing sports and keeping her grades up. When the two students ended up in the same class this year, their teacher, Julie Asaro, said she had to do something. Friday, that something turned into a dance-a-thon for Valley View Elementary sixth-graders. About 60 students danced and socialized in the school’s multipurpose room and each one knew why they were there — to help raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. “I am so happy all these people actually care,” Wright said during Friday’s dance-a-thon. “I’m really, really proud of my school.” Morgan Irwin’s mom, Kim Irwin, was also impressed at the students’ support for her daughter. “I’m overwhelmed,” Kim Irwin said. “It’s pretty awesome that people would want to take the time for it.” Students spent six hours dancing, but before that had the opportunity to learn all about the disease. Wright and Morgan Irwin both spoke to their class about what diabetes is, how it has affected them, how they test their blood sugar levels and other issues. Asaro said her class really supported the dance-a-thon idea to help two classmates. “They’re so caring,” Asaro said. “They have all just embraced this.” They hope to raise $3,200 through donations that will go toward the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. They have raised more than $800 through the online donations already. Every year, approximately 80 people a day – more than 15,000 children and 15,000 adults – are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in the U.S., according to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Type 1 diabetes warning signs include extreme thirst, drowsiness or lethargy, sudden weight loss, heavy or labored breathing, as well as other signs. For Morgan Irwin, adapting to diabetes has been a family effort. Every morning at 2 a.m., Kim Irwin wakes up to prick her daughter’s finger to test her blood sugar level. And for a sugar lover, it has been tough to limit Morgan Irwin’s intake of sweets. Now they really look into the total carbohydrates in food, as well as amount of sugar, Kim Irwin said. “Our whole family is all wrapped around this now,” she said. Wright has also had to adapt. He now attends meetings with other people with juvenile diabetes and is well knowledgeable about what his body is going through. “You never stop learning about it,” he said.