Look for 12-year-old Ella Katz selling bracelets for JDRF at Saturday’s WHS football game.
WESTFIELD, NJ — When Ella Katz was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) 11 years ago just after her first birthday, her parents Lynel and David began learning everything they could about the disease. They never would have expected that two and a half years later, their son Asher would also be diagnosed with T1D at the age of six. While it’s not unheard of, it’s relatively rare for siblings to have a T1D diagnosis in common.
Ella is now in sixth grade at Roosevelt Intermediate School, and Asher is a sophomore at Westfield High School. Their sister Zaria — the only child in the family without T1D — is a junior at Westfield High School. Over time, the Katz family has adjusted to having two children with T1D.
“This is just our life. We’re very thankful to be where we are, but it’s not easy,” said Lynel Katz. “The monitoring is constant. The technology has gotten much better, but we’ve still dealt with insulin shots, finger sticks for blood sugar testing and pump changes.”
Ella and Asher have been involved with JDRF, the leading national and international organization funding T1D research. They have raised funds, and the children have both become Youth Ambassadors, a program that allows kids with T1D to support fundraising and awareness efforts while developing leadership skills.
Ella and Asher talk to other kids who have been diagnosed with T1D, help with diabetes awareness, volunteer at JDRF events and more. The Katz family has also been involved with the JDRF annual fundraising gala and local T1D support groups; they have made the continuing commitment to give back to the T1D community and JDRF.
“Last year was Ella’s tenth year living with diabetes. As a family, we decided to celebrate by doing additional education and fundraisers.” Lynel Katz said, “Our life is chaotic. For example, Ella’s birthday gift to David this year was asking me to do the overnight blood sugar checks, which we have to wake for several times a night. But we’ve made it this far, and we wanted to thank the community of family and friends that helps us. It really does take a village to raise a child with diabetes.”
On Saturday, Sept. 28, while her brother Asher performs on the drumline with the Westfield High School Marching Band at the 1 p.m. football game at Kehler Stadium, Ella will represent JDRF by selling bracelets at the game. She also hopes to offer support, education and awareness by answering questions about T1D.
As a JDRF Youth Ambassador, Ella has also been invited to sing the National Anthem at the kickoff of One Walk, taking place at Rutgers University on Oct. 20. The family then plans to participate in the walk, which raises money for T1D research. They have already raised more than $2,500 for the 2019 walk.
To visit their fundraising page, click here.
As advocates for families managing T1D, the Katz family continues to give back to the community. Lynel is working on a book, which she hopes will be a guide to educate parents whose children have a T1D diagnosis.
“There are things that we can learn from each other,” said Lynel Katz. “How do you educate people about your child’s diabetes? How can you decide who to tell and when? How do you work with schools to make sure your child has the best possible, healthy educational experience?”
In the meantime, the family keeps moving ahead.
“We’re good,” said Lynel Katz. “We can keep going.”