Local high school Junior Kristine "Krissy" Boyle, 16, of Marietta, will travel to Washington, D.C. next week as a state delegate to the upcoming national diabetes conference on Capitol Hill. Boyle, along with 149 other children from around the country, will talk to lawmakers from both houses of Congress about the challenges of living with Type 1 diabetes.
The effort is part of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's Children's Congress 2011, a biennial event designed to remind Congress of the "critical need" to find better treatments and a cure for the disease.
Boyle, who was named a delegate through JDRF's Central New York Chapter in Liverpool, was diagnosed with Type 1 (also known as insulin-dependent or juvenile) diabetes in 2003 at age 8. Since then, "Everything I do requires that extra 90 minutes to make sure my diabetes is under control." Krissy said.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. It strikes people at any age and comes on suddenly.
According to the JDRF, as many as three million Americans may have Type 1 diabetes, and more than 15,000 children and 15,000 adults are newly diagnosed in the U.S. each year.
Krissy has lived with diabetes for seven years, counting carbohydrates, pricking her finger to check her blood sugar level, self-administering insulin and coping with the symptoms of high and low blood sugars. But even with the struggles of the disease, "I haven't stopped with anything I try to achieve," she said.
She is a student at Marcellus Senior High School, where she is a high honor roll student, captain of the varsity cheerleading team, defender on the varsity lacrosse team and a member of the chorus. When not in school she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, photography, swimming, music and other typical teenage interests. "I live a normal life that just happens to include balancing diabetes," she said.