Thursday, December 13, 2012

Kaysville student advocates for diabetes awareness, research

Kaysville student advocates for diabetes awareness, research
Adam Pearce • Diagnosed with Type I diabetes, the eighth-grader raises money, teaches others about the disease.
Courtesy of Pearce Family Adam Pearce shows off his jersey for his annual ride in the Tour de Cure fundraiser.
Kaysville • Dressed as Harry Potter in preparation for his first-grade Halloween party, Adam Pearce was excited about the day. Sadly Adam never made it to the party — instead, he ended up at his doctor’s office where he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
Still dressed as the boy wizard, Adam was admitted to Primary Children’s Medical Center by endocrinologist and pediatrician Rob Lindsay. Adam’s mother, Richelle Pearce, said that Lindsay looked Adam up and down and announced “Your scar is on the wrong side.”
Adam wasn’t really a wizard, he didn’t have a magic wand, nor did his parents or doctor. They didn’t have the power to make his diabetes disappear. Instead, the Pearce family decided to tap into the magic of education to discover more about the disease and inform others about it.
“The first time I met Dr. Lindsay, he looked me in the eyes and said ‘This isn’t your fault.’ I was so relieved and I said to myself, ‘OK, then let’s move on and deal with this’” said Richelle Pearce.
Adam didn’t really understand the full impact of the disease until he popped a Tootsie roll in his mouth after trick-or-treating and both his parents got upset.
“I realized I couldn’t eat whatever I wanted without thinking about it and knew life was not going to be like it used to be,” Adam said.
When Adam was first diagnosed, his best friend came over to play. Adam went into his room to get some Halloween candy when his little friend came in the kitchen tugged on Richelle Pearce’s shirt and asked “Is what Adam has contagious?”
Richelle Pearce knew she had to teach others about diabetes. The entire Pearce family learned everything they could about diabetes. Richelle Pearce began sharing her knowledge with the school and anyone else who wanted to learn.
She knew it was important teach the kids at school about diabetes so they could be a resource to Adam.
“I do a diabetes presentation at the beginning of every year to make sure everyone understands diabetes and knows what to watch for in Adam. The more eyes watching Adam the better. Education is everything,” she said.
The Pearces try to start with the basics such as informing people that Type 1 diabetes is not contagious and a person doesn’t get it from eating too much sugar or playing too many video games.
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation statistics report that more than 15,000 children and 15,000 adults are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes every year. That is about 80 people a day in the United States.
The Pearces try to spread the word about diabetes wherever they go. Richelle Pearce is the safe school advocate volunteer for the American Diabetes Association. She educates school employees and helps parents write up their child’s special health needs plan for the school.
Adam is now 14 and an eighth-grader at Kaysville Junior High. He shares his mom’s passion for education. Recently, he made it to the top three nominees for Diabetes National Youth Advocate. He has served as the Utah spokesperson since 2008 and has spoken before dozens of groups.
In addition to speaking, Adam and his family have participated in the fundraiser Tour de Cure, raising between $1,500 and $2,000 each year. In past years, Adam and his family have ridden 25 miles; this year with his dad and brother, he rode 60 miles.
Adam and his family find sponsors who donate money to the American Diabetes Association.
“It’s a fund raiser to help find a cure for diabetes,” said Adam.
Adam has also been credentialed and invited to a call to congress in March. He hopes to go to Washington, D.C. with his family and meet with congressmen and constituents from Utah and advocate for diabetes funding and programs.
Twitter: @sltribDavis

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