PIQUA — Having raised money for cancer in the past, Piqua High School students are tackling another challenging disease this year, one that affects approximately 10 percent — more than 29 million people — of the American population.
Diabetes ranks as the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Diabetes Association, and the student leaders at PHS are striving to help those living with the disease by selling T-shirts to Piqua City Schools students and staff.
“The student leaders have been doing a great job of supporting students and staff that have to battle this challenging disease of diabetes,” said PCS Athletic Director Chip Hare, who received an email from senior Ashley Brading about the project.
In her email, Brading noted that the students are raising funds for Dayton Diabetes in order to help people who are underinsured, as well as to send diabetic children to camp for a week in the summer.
“These kids get a week free from worrying about what they can or can’t do because of their condition and experience a week they will always remember,” Brading wrote.
Designed by students, the bright blue, tie-dyed shirts — emblazoned with the slogan “Diabetes Messed With The Wrong Town” on front, and “One Town Taking On One National Epidemic” on the back — are garnering attention and requests from area residents, Hare said.
“We have received some calls from community members asking how they can purchase these shirts,” he said. “If we get enough interest, we may have to order additional ones, which is a great problem to have.”
“I am so proud of our students for doing this project because it affects so many people in our community,” said PCS Superintendent Dwayne Thompson.
Thompson knows personally the effect of diabetes, having lived with the disease for 21 years. He recalled the onset of symptoms and how it impacted his life.
“I experienced a week of symptoms before going to the doctor. I don’t believe I ever felt as sick as I did that week. I was developing blurry vision, had achy muscles, was sweating uncontrollably, drinking lots of water despite being constantly thirsty, and experienced frequent urination. My friends and family noticed that I was struggling and encouraged me to go to the doctor,” he recounted.
After celebrating his birthday with ice cream and cake, Thompson became ill and finally contacted his doctor.
“After a quick check-up in his office, I was taken to the hospital, where a nurse entered the room with a needle and some insulin. I was shocked to learn that I was diabetic,” he said.
Thompson’s diagnosis led to him riding a rollercoaster of high and low blood sugars, learning to give himself insulin, and balancing his medication and diet with exercise. For the past 16 years, he has managed his diabetes with an insulin pump.
“I am so thankful for this technology because it allows me to control my blood sugar levels more accurately and I can adjust my eating times more easily. It also allows me to be more flexible when I am working as I can better control my blood sugar counts,” he explained.
As a teacher and principal, Thompson has worked with students to help them better manage their diabetes as well. “Many times, parents would request their child to be in my class so I could be there to assist as needed. Now, we have nurses in each school. This is one of the greatest resources we can have for our students,” he said. “
In fact, one of our nurses is a diabetic as well and has been instrumental in helping our district better serve students with diabetes. Our nurses work closely with students and their parents to manage their medicine and diabetes while students are in school.”
The district’s physical education teachers also work with the students to learn lifelong exercise skills, which are key to helping prevent Type 2 diabetes, Thompson added.
Students will present a check to Dayton Diabetes at Friday’s football game against Greenville.
“The work our students are doing to bring diabetes into everyone’s focus and donating money to Dayton Diabetes will certainly have a lasting impact.”
Reach Belinda M. Paschal at (937) 451-3341