WOOD-RIDGE, NJ - Some 1.25 million Americans are living with T1D, Type 1 Diabetes, previously known as Juvenile Diabetes, including about 200,000 youth (less than 20 years old) and more than 1 million adults (20 years old and older), according to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, (JDRF.) One Wood-Ridge young girl and her family are working to raise awareness of this disease and raise funds for research through her lemonade stand and walkathon.
Melania was diagnosed just over a year ago with Type 1 Diabetes at 5 1/2 years old.
"There is no day off for this girl as she fights everyday," said her mother Zofia Celentano. "It definitely has to be a routine. Each carbohydrate is counted for each meal. She has to eat all that we give her because she receives her insulin before she eats so all the carbs in each meal are vital to her blood sugar.
"She understands as much as a seven-year-old can about diabetes. She has her bad days and has her good days. No two days are ever the same when it comes to her blood sugar. There is no rhyme nor reason for it, so her diet and exercise are important."
This disease has affected the whole family, not just Melania, as her older daughter sometimes assists her younger sibling.
"Our 10 year old daughter even keeps an eye on her younger sister, and helps out with her insulin shots as well and lets us know if Melania’s blood sugar is really high or really low," her mother noted.
Melania is active in cheerleading and softball.
"We do not tell her she cannot do something because of diabetes." her mother stated. "Sure there are things we have to have her scale back on, like birthday parties. The parties are the hardest because for her because eating a cupcake or a piece of cake could skyrocket her blood sugar and send her to the hospital. So one of us is always there to keep an eye out."
Celentano is grateful for overwhelming support from the school district and community.
"The nurse and teachers and everyone at her school have been fantastic and accommodating to her and us," she said. "The town of Wood-Ridge has been great as well, they never say “No she can’t.” it is always “we will do what we have to.”
Does she have advice for other families on a similar journey?
“It is not easy. It does not become easy but becomes part of everyday life and a routine is very important," she said. "Do not be afraid of it, it is a difficult challenge all the time and you can never take a minute off and say we will worry about that tomorrow.
“Someone asked us once how are we doing with it? Our reply was, 'It’s our child and no matter how sick it is our job to take care of her first and foremost. It is not a matter if we are OK with it, when it is your child you do anything you can to make sure they are safe no matter what."
On Sunday, October 13, Melania will be holding a lemonade stand at 182 Helm Avenue in Wood-Ridge, from 1 to 4 p.m. All monies will go to JDRF.
Then on Sunday, October 20, Melania's Mob will be walking in the JDRF One Walk at New Overpeck Park in Ridgefield Park, NJ.
To donate to Melania's walk-a-thon efforts, visit Fundraising with Melania's Mob.
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