Normal Kid Hero Fighting the Fight: Juvenile Diabetes

juvenile diabetes
Beau Lovell

Beau Lovell probably doesn’t think of himself as a hero. The 11-year-old sixth grader at Randall G. Lynch Middle School in Farmington is humble when he talks about raising money for the JDRF and raising awareness of juvenile diabetes, its causes and the search for a cure. The JDRF, formerly known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, is a cause close to Beau’s heart. He’s got skin in the game. Beau, who calls himself “just a regular kid,” was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes several years ago.

“I got diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes three years ago,” he told me. “It meant a lot to me.  So, we started raising money and awareness.”

Beau raises awareness of the condition’s challenges by talking about it to friends, family and school mates.

“Type 1 is where the pancreas shuts down and it won’t produce insulin for your body,” he explained.  “The body won’t break food down and you have to give yourself insulin through a pump or shots.”

The insulin keeps Beau’s blood sugar within a manageable range. For those of us whose pancreas works, we don’t have to think about what we eat.  Beau has to check his blood sugar throughout the day. He has to prick his finger before he eats to determine his blood sugar level. Depending on what his blood sugar number is, he may have to take action. Beau wears an insulin pump. He calculates the amount of carbohydrates he eats and puts those numbers into the pump. The pump runs the numbers and gives the exact amount of insulin needed to break the food down.

Walk the Walk

Beau Lovell

Learning how to adapt to his condition following the diagnosis was a challenge, but one he overcame.

“It took some getting used to,” he told me. “We (He and his family) learned a lot in the hospital and in the first couple of weeks following my diagnosis. You get the hang of it and start to know when you are low and when you need to eat. You learn what helps you and understand how you feel.”

It didn’t take long for Beau and his family to dive into raising money for Type 1 research. There is an organization in Fayetteville that raises funds through an annual walk, but Farmington also had a long established effort to raise money for JDRF.

“We have been doing the juvenile diabetes research foundation walk to raise money to help for last three years,” Beau said. Sometimes we will have a day in the school to raise money.”

For 10 years, the community of Farmington came together to support Type 1 awareness. A couple of families had kids who were challenged by the condition and they were able to work within the school system to tackle the subject and raise awareness. Soon, those kids graduated and that left a vacuum of education about the issue. Beau and his family stepped in and started organizing the annual event. It’s a community event held on a Saturday with silent and live auctions and the walk.  People come out and learn about Type 1 diabetes and support the program.

“We sell t-shirts inside the school,” Beau said. “We try to raise awareness.”

Regular Kid

Beau Lovell

Beau has a simple strategy to educate his friends and community members of the challenges of Type 1 and need for research and a cure.

“I just try to explain it to a lot of people,” he said. “People will ask me what I’m doing when I’m checking my levels. I’ll explain that I’m normal and I do everything.”

Beau plays basketball and the people on his team know that if he doesn’t seem quite right that they need to get him some sugar. Just because he has diabetes, he can still do all of the things his friends do.

Beau said that he gets a lot of support from his friends and the community. He likes giving back by raising money for research.

“A lot of my buddies are really good about coming to the walk,” he said. “If there’s a football game they will always try to be there and help sell T-shirts. I feel a lot of happiness because they are all there with me to try to find a cure for Type 1 and help find a cure for me and people across the world.”