Madeline, a student at Alfred G. Waters Middle School in Middletown, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes three years ago. She was recently selected to participate as a delegate in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's Children's Congress, which will take place in Washington, D.C., June 20 to 22.
Every day, 11-year-old Madeline Tallman monitors her blood sugar carefully. Attached to her side at almost all times is a small pump resembling a portable Walkman, which infuses insulin to her body through a tube to keep her sugars regulated. She must choose her foods carefully and keep track of her carbohydrate intake.
Madeline, a student at Alfred G. Waters Middle School in Middletown, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes three years ago.
“It was completely out of the blue,” said her mother, Meg. “We didn’t really have a history of it in our family.”
According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease caused when a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin, the hormone that enables the person to get energy from food. It is not to be confused with Type 2, a metabolic disorder, in which a person’s body still produces insulin but is unable to use it affectively.
After her diagnosis, Madeline and her family became involved in JDRF as a way to stay informed and educated. She and her family have participated in fundraising walks and Madeline even designed a social group for tween girls with diabetes.
Madeline was recently selected to represent Delaware in the JDRF Children’s Congress, a three-day event in Washington, D.C., where she will meet others with Type 1 diabetes and speak with a host of lawmakers about the importance of diabetes research.
“I was pretty speechless when I found out,” Madeline said. "I’m excited to talk to representatives and senators, because a lot of people don’t get that chance.”
The event, which takes place every other summer, is led by JDRF’s International Chairwoman Mary Tyler Moore and includes 150 children from ages 4 to 17, representing all 50 states and seven other countries.
Meg said this trip is not only a great learning experience for Madeline, but it puts a face on Type 1 diabetes.
“People who don’t have experience with diabetes may not realize the real impact it has on an individual until they meet someone with it,” she said. “This provides that opportunity.”
Madeline said although there are challenges that come with the disease, she remains active. She is on a synchronized figure skating team at the University of Delaware, a member of the Business Professionals of America and a member of the National Junior Honor Society.
“It’s like bringing a new baby home,” Meg said. “You have to find new ways to incorporate it into your life and although it’s a lot of work, it becomes part of your routine.”