PERU - Connor Sargeant has been living with diabetes for as long as he can remember.
The 11-year-old Peru Middle School student was diagnosed with Type I diabetes when he was 5 years old. The chronic disease occurs when the body's pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin to properly maintain blood sugar levels.
Though he was a toddler when he was diagnosed, Sargeant's mother, Jill Folsom, said he doesn't remember how his life was before being labeled a diabetic.
"As long as he remember, he's always been diabetic," said Folsom.
However, Folsom remembers the circumstances surrounding her son's diagnosis very well.
"Connor was in kindergarten and he had never really been sick," recalled Folsom. "Then, all of a sudden, he started having chronic ear infections and strep throat."
Folsom, a registered nurse, began to become more curious about her son's condition, especially when he began wetting the bed and becoming "incredibly thirsty." "I was home with him on spring break and I started noticing more signs. It was then I really started to suspect it was diabetes," said Folsom.
Folsom brought her son to the family doctor, who then referred the family to an endocrinologist in Burlington, Vt. That's when Folsom learned of her son's diagnosis.
"Life changed," she recalled.
Sargeant's life since that day has consisted of constantly monitoring his blood sugar levels, requiring several finger sticks a day. These days, his diabetes is well-monitored and under control thanks to an insulin pump and support from family, friends and school staff who regularly remind Sargeant about checking his blood sugar. However, there have been times when his levels have been very high - around 800 mg/dl - to very low - as low as 26 mg/dl. Sargeant's level should be between 80-120 mg/dl, said his mother.
"He never lost consciousness when it got down to 26, which was the strangest thing," said Folsom.
Though Sargeant's experience of living with Type I diabetes is one he shrugs off as part of his everyday routine, he and his mother both want to raise awareness about the autoimmune disease. And, to that end, Sargeant and his family will be guests of honor at the Walk to Cure Diabetes this Saturday, April 30, at the PARC Oval in Plattsburgh.
"It's important to get the word out about diabetes and to reach out to other families out there living with it, so they know they're not alone," said Folsom.
The event - which will benefit Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International - will begin with registration at 9:30 a.m. The walk will follow at 11 a.m.
For more information, contact walk coordinator Karen Patterson at 477-2873.