When Norah Brumbaugh was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at age 7, she wasted no time sharing her experience to help others impacted by the irreversible autoimmune disease and educate those on the outside looking in.
Mother’s intuition marks the beginning of her story. During a routine checkup with Norah’s pediatrician, Monica Brumbaugh noted her daughter’s weight had been dropping. Easily perceived as a healthy child’s wavering growth period, Norah went home and got ready to celebrate the holidays with her family. But with more time at home during Christmas break, Monica began to notice new tendencies that sparked additional concern, “Norah was very thirsty and was more frequently taking bathroom breaks.”
On New Year’s Eve of 2017, Monica researched Norah’s symptoms online and found them to be similar to those associated with T1D. Worried, she once again reached out to her pediatrician and was urged to go to an urgent care center. Once there, Norah’s blood sugar was tested, and her diagnosis was confirmed that day.
With time spent at the hospital following her diagnosis, Norah turned a bleak situation bright with her love for the arts, honing in on her drawing and writing skills. To express herself, Norah put her beloved stuffed toy dog, Woofy, in the middle of her story and began to write and illustrate the tale of his T1D diagnosis, titled “Woofy Has Diabetes.”
And while Norah was learning to share her experience, JDRF was providing the entire family with guidance and helpful resources. “JDRF is such an amazing foundation,” Monica remarked. “Not only does their research make a difference, but they offer a wealth of knowledge that is easily accessible to newly-diagnosed families like ours.”
Soon after finishing her book, Norah, now a JDRF Youth Ambassador, became a pop-up vendor at supporting restaurants and local stores, with money raised going towards JDRF and her One Walk team. As Norah’s efforts gained attention, the family was connected with Douglas Toy Co., the manufacturer of “Woofy,” and gifted stuffed toy dogs to sell alongside her book.
Monica is proud that despite being rather shy, Norah is “really passionate about sharing her story” and is always thinking about how she can make a difference. In addition to being an author, Norah has started a diabetes awareness club at school, where friends come together to learn from their schoolmate, hang posters in the halls and make cards for hospitalized children. With the Brumbaughs’ efforts, JDRF has even helped train school faculty on T1D care.
“Thinking back, I remember feeling like I had no idea where to start, and it was so meaningful to have resources and amazing people from JDRF to answer my questions,” Monica said. “Now, we’re able to pass information along and educate others.”
Join Norah and her team for their second JDRF One Walk on Sunday, September 22, 2019, at Milliken State Park/ Detroit River Walk in Detroit as they walk to end T1D. For more information or to register for One Walk, please click here.