• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff Report

Local ADA ambassadors inspire other kids

MADDY CAMPBELL and Parker Thomas are youth ambassadors for the American Diabetes Association. Their teams will participate in the annual Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes on Saturday, June 4, at the Keeneland Race Course on Versailles Road in Lexington. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

As American Diabetes Association (ADA) youth ambassadors, Maddy Campbell and Parker Thomas serve as role models for other young people living with diabetes. Maddy has a straightforward message for those kids. "It doesn't stop you. It can't stop you. And it won't stop you," says Maddy, who finished the fourth grade at Southside Elementary on Tuesday. "You can do anything you want, basically." Parker, who just finished his junior year at Woodford County High School, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a week before his 9th birthday. The diagnosis was a complete shock to his parents, Jamie and Carrie Thomas, but Parker didn't want to be known as "that kid with diabetes." So he plays varsity baseball and remains determined to "live a good, healthy, normal life." Parker's family has been participating in Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes since 2009. And he still loves being a youth ambassador. "I like to inspire people," says Parker. Whether it's inspiring young kids to start using an insulin pump or regularly check their blood sugar - Parker wants to make a difference and send a message to those younger kids living with diabetes. "We can fight this. We can win," says Parker. His Scoop's Crew will again walk in the annual ADA fundraising event on Saturday, June 4, at the Keeneland Race Course on Versailles Road in Lexington. Maddy's "Team Diabesties" will join them. Participants in Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes are invited to complete a one-mile or 5K Walk, or run in a 5K (new this year). Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., with The Walk to Stop Diabetes program starting at 9:30 a.m. The run begins at 10 o'clock and the walk about 10 minutes later. Every dollar raised during the event stays in Kentucky and supports a variety of programs for children with diabetes and their families, according to Sheri Logan, chair of Step Out: The Walk to Stop Diabetes. "If there's a cure," she adds, "a big part of it is Kentucky - because of what we do here." For additional information, contact event coordinator Lisa Edwards at ledwards@diabetes.org or 268-9129 (extension 3327), or visit www.diabetes.org/lexingtonstepout. 'She's a great kid' Since Maddy Campbell was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in February 2014, she has learned to be responsible with her routines and kept a positive outlook, which make her "a good role model," says Logan. "She's a great, well-rounded kid and that's what we want other people with diabetes to see. We want that positive role model - and that's what she is. She's a great kid." Logan says she's really proud that two of this year's ADA ambassadors "are Woodford County kids." The Southside Elementary School teacher's 20-year-old son, Alex, served as an ambassador for several years after his diabetes diagnosis at 17 months old. Maddy was diagnosed with diabetes after attending a farm machinery show with her younger sisters, Lilly and Lyla, and their dad, David, on Valentine's Day. Maddy drank a lot - around 2 liters of water - on their drive to Louisville and her dad also had to make frequent stops because she needed to use the bathroom so often. When David, also a Type 1 diabetic, checked his daughter's blood sugar concentration in the morning her glucose levels had climbed to 367 mg/dL without any food (a normal level is around 100 after fasting). At that moment, David and Cora Campbell knew their oldest daughter was also a diabetic, but "the way we manage her (blood sugar level) is completely different than the way we've ever managed him," explained Cora. "So that part's different, but I think the fact she's had a lot of really good role models - I feel like that's helped." The diagnosis wasn't as scary for Maddy because she had been around her dad - and his diabetes - her entire life. "She kind of took on (diabetes) head-on," explains Cora. "It's made her more responsible," a sentiment echoed by her oldest daughter. "It doesn't really bother me much," says Maddy. As long as she's able to follow her daily routine, this 10-year-old can manage her diabetes. "She has her moments where it stinks and (she asks) why is it me? And we work through those," says Cora. Diabetes hasn't stopped Maddy from dancing or doing most anything else. Cora says she and David followed his parents' example. They didn't allow diabetes to stop him from doing typical kid's stuff. "And that's our goal," explains Cora. "We ask ourselves: Would we have let her do it before she was diabetic? If the answer's yes, we don't use her diabetes as a reason to say, 'no.'"

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