Meet the NC Youth Ambassadors

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Taylor Anthony – My name is Taylor Anthony and I live in Greenville, NC. I was diagnosed on January 2, 2019 at age 14. I am currently a rising senior in high school. I want other kids to know that Type 1 Diabetes, while challenging at times, cannot stop you from living your best life.

 

 

 

 

 

Stephanie Arostegui – Hello! My name is Stephanie Arostegui and I live in Waxhaw, NC. I am going into 8th grade at Marvin Ridge Middle School. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes on September 20, 2018, the day after my 11th birthday. I want other kids with T1D to know that it does not stop you from doing the things that you love.

 

 

 

 

 

Keegan Bissell – I am Keegan Bissell, a 4th grader from Statesville, North Carolina and I have had Type 1 Diabetes since I was 22 months old so the T1D life is all I know.  I enjoy hanging with my family and dogs, horseback riding, swimming and hiking!  Since my diagnosis on October 30, 2013 we started Keegan’s Krew, my JDRF Walk team, to help raise money for a cure with my family and friends. I also have been a speaker at a local community college nursing program about my T1D experience and participated in many fun JDRF events.  People with T1D should know even with the good and bad we have to deal with, there are some cool parts like the lifelong T1D friends you make.  I get excited making fast friends when I spot a Dex or insulin pump wherever I go too!  I look forward to seeing what this year brings as a JDRF Youth Ambassador

 

 

Bracy Boddorf – My name is Bracy Boddorf and I live in Cary, North Carolina. I am 17 years old, and I was diagnosed when I was 9 years old (2014). I will be a Senior this year and I’m very nervous and excited to start thinking about college. Something I want other kids to know about living with type one is that type one is a strength and not a weakness/difficulty. I’ve always been embarrassed to have something “wrong” with me. But over time, I’ve learned I should be proud to have type one and proud of who it makes me. I want to teach other kids to be proud too, rather than embarrassed.

 

 

Miles BoneI’m Miles and I am a rising 4th grade student living in Dallas, NC. I was diagnosed on 8/1/2012 at twelve months old. I want children living with Type 1 Diabetes to know “you will get through it.”

 

 

 

 

 

Caitlyn Burgess – Hello my name is Caitlyn Burgess, a rising 5th grader in Charlotte, NC. I was diagnosed on September 6, 2016, 11 days before my 5th birthday. I would like for other children living with Type 1 Diabetes to know that it is hard at times especially with site changes, but you will get used to it. Just know that you got this and we are all in this together. Don’t ever let Diabetes stop you from doing anything you want to do.

 

 

 

Christina Campbell – I’m Christina Campbell and I live in Randleman, NC. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes on July 25, 2017 at nine years old. I am now an Eighth-Grade student. I want other T1D kids to know that diabetes doesn’t define you or keep you from living a normal life.

 

 

 

 

 

Wyatt Cox – Wyatt Cox (17) is a senior at Ashe County High School and a JDRF Youth Ambassador for North Carolina.  In March of 2021, two weeks before his 17th birthday, Wyatt was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D).  Today, he is a new research advocate for T1D, passionate to help other young people with the disease.

Wyatt is a member of Phi Theta Kappa College Honor Society, National Technical Honor Society and National Beta Club.  Three months after his T1D diagnosis, Wyatt attended North Carolina Governor’s School to study mathematics at the a 5-week residential program for gifted students.  Aside from learning high level mathematics, he attended lectures across disciplines and networked/lived with a diverse group of people from across the state of North Carolina on a college campus.

In May of 2022, in addition to his high school diploma, Wyatt Cox will also earn an Associate Degree in Science from Wilkes Community College.  His goal is to study biology and chemistry at a 4-year university and attend medical school to become an endocrinologist. In his free time, Wyatt enjoys playing baseball (pitcher), basketball, computer gaming, and volunteering.

Wyatt is the son of Kevin and Eisa Cox. Kevin is a real-estate broker and Dr. Eisa Cox is the Superintendent of Ashe County Schools in North Carolina. Wyatt has an older brother, Spencer (19) who attends Appalachian State University, and two dogs.

 

 

Kemp Earnst – My name is Kemp Earnst and I live in Charlotte, NC. I was diagnosed with T1D at 2 years old on July 16, 2018. I am now in Kindergarten! I want other people to know that sometimes T1D is fun because I get to have juice and candy in the middle of the night when my blood sugar is low.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gabriel Ferrell – Hi!  My name is Gabriel Ferrell. I live in Charlotte, NC. I was diagnosed on February 4, 2014, when I was 4. I am in the 6th grade. I want people to know that having T1D is not always bad, there are some upsides to it – you get to meet some really cool people (like the Youth Ambassadors!) and do fun things like the JDRF Walk and the Gala.

 

 

 

 

 

Grant Fleischer – My name is Grant Fleischer and I am a rising junior at Charlotte Christian. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age seven.  I want others to know that I don’t want it to define me or for people to consider me sick.  It has not held me back from the things I enjoy doing. I still play the sports I always have, attend overnight camp, stay at friend’s houses etc. However, living with Type one is exhausting mentally. To have to think about everything I eat and the snacks I choose and having to count carbs and test. It is a whole different level of responsibility, and it is okay to feel frustrated and angry at times, but it won’t hold you back unless you let it. Make sure you friends support you, but don’t feel like because you are diabetic your life will be shortened as long as you make good choices but forgive yourself for you have days where your blood is too high or too low.

 

 

Madeline Giovannini – My name is Madeline Giovannini.  I live in Charlotte, North Carolina and am going into the third grade. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when I was 4.5 years old, and now I am almost 8! Some of my favorite things to do with JDRF are making new friends, going to Camp Morris, and doing the Walk with my team, Princess Madeline and her Royal Subjects. If I could tell people one thing about having diabetes, it would be that I can still do everything I want to do.

 

 

 

Stella Hall – My name is Stella Grace Hall and I live in Cary, North Carolina. I’m 11 years old, my birthday is June 14th, and I was diagnosed on August 25th, 2014, so almost seven years ago. I’m going into 6th grade so this will be my first year in Middle School. I go to school at GRACE Christian School and I’ve been going there since Kindergarten. I want people to understand that even though I have diabetes, I am still capable of doing everything and anything that anybody else can do. I just have to be a little bit more cautious with my body and my actions. I also want people to understand that I can live a normal life even though I have diabetes. I’m a cheerleader and a tennis player, and diabetes doesn’t slow me down with any of my hobbies. I have three best friends who like me for who I am and me having T1D does make them like me any less. Diabetes isn’t slowing me down and nothing is going to stop me from fighting for a cure. To all the people who are also fighting for a cure never give up hope, no matter what anybody says. We will find a cure!

 

Reid Heaton – I am Reid Heaton and I live in Charlotte, NC.  I was diagnosed with T1D at age 4.5 and am now going into 9th grade!  Living with T1D can be challenging at times but it cannot stop you! One thing I have learned is that sometimes it makes things harder, but diabetes will never have the last word. I learned this through school and sports that if I get low in a game or in a test, I take a break and get right back at it. T1D has never limited me in a huge way because I haven’t let it.

 

 

 

Emerson Henry – My name is Emerson Henry! I live in Hampstead, NC with my family and I am a Second Grader at Surf City Elementary School. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes on February 25, 2021. I was 7 years old. Type 1 Diabetes won’t stop me!  I am strong and much more than my diagnosis! We can find a cure for T1D together.

 

 

 

 

 

Madilyn Hunter – My name is Madilyn Hunter. I am 7 years old and in 3rd grade. I live in Apex, NC and was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes on July 17, 2019, when I was 5 years old. Living with T1D can be hard but I don’t let T1D stop me from doing or eating anything!  I want other kids to know I am not limited because of T1D, I am limitless!

 

 

 

 

 

Jad Kassab – Hi, I’m Jad Kassab and I live in Waxhaw, NC. I was diagnosed with T1D on August 4, 2018 at 12 years old, and I’m now a sophomore in high school. The main thing I want people to know about living with Type 1 is that while some days might be hard, you should never give up or feel discouraged, just keep enjoying life!

 

 

 

 

 

Cailey Lambeth

 

 

 

Lourdes Lopez – My name is Lourdes Lopez and I will be a JDRF ambassador this year. I live in Clemmons, North Carolina. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on 4/16/15 when I was 11 years old. I am now going into my senior year in high school. I would like other kids with this diagnosis to know that although it does have its challenges, diabetes is not the worst thing in the world. Having a strong support system and resilience is vital with daily life dealing with type 1.

 

 

 

 

 

Ella McLaurin – Hello, my name is Ella McLaurin and I live in Roxboro, North Carolina. I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes on July 15, 2020, at the age of 9. This fall I will be in the 6th grade. I want other kids to know that the more you can learn about Type 1 diabetes, the easier it becomes to take care of yourself. Organizations like JDRF helped me to better understand Type 1 diabetes when I was first diagnosed.  I want to help other kids who are newly diagnosed feel that they are not alone and can do this. I also want to support JDRF’s efforts in finding a cure for Type 1 diabetes.

 

 

 

Paxton Miller – My name is Paxton Miller and I live in Indian Land, South Carolina.  I was diagnosed on July 12th, 2019 at the age of 8 years old. I am going into the 5th grade after summer break. If there is one thing you should know, it is do NOT let T1D slow you down!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dominic Montemarano – Hello my name is Dominic Montemarano.  I am 14 yo and will attend Weddington High School as a freshman this year.  I love to fish, play basketball and hang out with my friends.  I was diagnosed with T1D in late March and look at the whole thing as an excellent learning experience.  I’m a T1D pro!

 

 

 

 

Max Nicholson – Hi I am Max Nicholson I live in Charlotte NC. I was diagnosed with diabetes on February 24, 2020, I was 11 years old I am now 12. I am in 7th grade at AG middle school. I would like other kids to know that kids with Type 1 diabetes can do whatever other kids can do, we just have to keep an eye on our blood sugar. Also, I would like them to know that Type 1 diabetes is something that you are born with; it’s not caused by eating too much candy or sugar.  I hope that someday soon we will have a cure!

 

 

 

 

Gia Petriniotis – My name is Gia Petriniotis, and I currently live in  Charlotte, North Carolina this summer. When I was 6 years old, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in October of 2016. Now, I am 11 years old and going into 7th grade. My advice towards my fellow T1D’s and their families, is to keep your head up, know how strong you are, and remember that it’s okay to be “different” because in a world of Cheerios you get to be the Fruit Loop.

 

 

 

Skylar Pointer – My name is Skylar Pointer and I live in Greenville, NC. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes on December 23, 2013, I was 5 years old, and that was definitely a Christmas I would never forget. I am currently 13 years old and going to the 8th grade. I want other kids to know that living with type 1 diabetes doesn’t make you any different, just a little sweeter sometimes. Type 1 diabetes isn’t something you can prevent so you just have to learn how to live with the condition. I know diabetes is a disease, but I feel like any normal kid, I just treat my high blood sugars with insulin and I eat when my blood sugars get low. I am not defined by diabetes and want others to know they aren’t either. So, no matter what I decide to do in life whether it be a doctor, veterinarian, dancer, or own a big business I’ll do it with a smile and blood sugar checks.

 

 

 

 

Chloe Sclimenti – My name is Chloe Sclimenti and I live in Waxhaw, NC and I am going to be in Second Grade next year. A fun fact about me is that I am the #1 Harry Potter fan in the entire world! I was diagnosed with T1D when I was 6 years old on Friday, February 7th, 2020. One of the best parts about being diagnosed with Type 1 is that I finally got to get a dog. Her name is Clover, and she is my best friend along with my Cat Nutmeg! One of these days there will be a cure. My parents believe it will happen within our lifetime. My Mom says that we can take a whole week off to celebrate when the cure is discovered. This is one of the reasons I am so happy to be a Youth Ambassador with JDRF. I know they are working so hard to make that dream a reality for all of us living with T1D!

 

 

 

Olive Seeba – My name is Olive Seeba and I live in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I was diagnosed with T1D when I was 7 years old, on December 16th, 2016 (my dad’s birthday!). I am in 7th grade. I want other kids to know you are not alone! Living with diabetes can be challenging at times but the JDRF community is here to help and is very good at it.

 

 

 

 

Jaeda Shak– My name is Jaeda Shak and I live in Charlotte, NC. I was diagnosed with T1D when I was 11 on January 20, 2017. I will be a sophomore this coming school year. I want other kids to know that it’s okay to be different and that having diabetes doesn’t make you any less of a person, it just makes you stronger.

 

 

 

Samantha Shealy – I am Samantha Sheay. I am 14 years old and I live in Marvin, North Carolina.  I have had Type One diabetes for 5 years now. I was diagnosed on July 2nd 2016. I remember watching Fourth of July fireworks with my mom and dad from the roof of Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, AR. It was a day that definitely changed my life.  I am going to be a freshman in high school at Marvin Ridge. I want other kids to know that living with Type One is always different. There is not one day like the other. My blood sugar is always changing. Diabetes it’s not going to define me as a person, I can do whatever I want but now I am just stronger and work harder.

 

 

 

Grace Sheppard – Hi friends! My name is Grace Sheppard, I’m a rising senior, and I live in Belmont, North Carolina. I was diagnosed in February of 2016 at age eleven. Diabetes has become such a huge part of my life, and I can genuinely say it’s done more good for me than bad. I’ve made so many precious friends through JDRF and diabetes camps, and I feel like type one has made me a stronger person overall. To all of the newbies, you’ve got this! You are never alone, and each and every one of us has your back.

 

 

 

Tillman Shiplett – I’m Tillman Shiplett and I live in Fort Mill, SC. I was diagnosed with T1D on June 11th, 2013, at the age of 7. I am going into my sophomore year of high school. I want other kids living with diabetes to know that diabetes doesn’t define you and try to help them outline the good parts of having diabetes.

 

 

 

 

Skye Smith – Hi! My name is Skye! And I live in Youngsville, North Carolina. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2018 when I was 3. This year I will be in the first grade! One thing I want other kids to know about Type one is that …. it’s not so bad!!

 

 

 

Bryson Smith – My name is Bryson Smith. I live in Midland near Charlotte, NC. I was diagnosed on 12/28/2016, 4 and a half years ago. I am going into the 8th grade in August. Diabetes has its ups and downs, when you have low blood sugar you can eat candy but, when you have high blood sugar you probably shouldn’t eat much.

 

 

 

Sarah Smith – Over the years, I’ve learned that it is integral not to let diabetes break your spirit. Yes, our disease is frustrating, but we can’t resort to bitterness, for our collective experiences can make the lives of others living with T1D easier. I’ve also learned that you don’t have to feign perfection. T1Ds don’t always have perfect blood sugars, or treat everything correctly, and that’s life, so you don’t have to worry about judgement at JDRF.

 

 

 

Avery Smulktis – My name is Avery Smulktis and I live in Charlotte, NC with my parents and younger brother. I am ten years old and I was diagnosed on March 14, 2017. This year I am going into the fifth grade at Grace Academy. I love performing and being on stage for theater. One thing I wish people knew about T1D is that I didn’t cause it. It wasn’t something I ate that made me get T1D.

 

 

 

 

Lucy Stark – Hi my name is Lucy Stark and I am from Charlotte North Carolina. I was diagnosed at the age of 12 on March 21 2019. I am in 10th grade at Virginia Episcopal School in Lynchburg. I want others to know that it is okay to not be a perfect diabetic, but a good goal is trying your best to become better each day 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Hannah Teague – Hi! My name is Hannah Teague, and I live in Davidson, North Carolina. I was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes on November 11, 2009 at the age of three. Today, I am in tenth grade at Cannon School. I hope to show others that Type One Diabetes is not who I am, but rather has helped shape me into the person I am today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arianna Thomas – My name is Arianna Thomas, and I live in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I was diagnosed with type one on July 7th, 2017. At the time of my diagnosis, I was 9 years old. I am going into 8th grade this year, and I am 13 currently. Other people should know that living with type 1 gives you a different perspective of life every day. By this I mean each day you might learn something new. Each time you learn new information, you use that to help your body and gain an understanding of what is happening in your body. Although it can be frustrating, you become stronger each day and learn to adapt to your body’s needs. This disease makes me realize how blessed I am, because I am able to live a great life while being able to stay in control of my body. It’s never easy, and I know none of us love handling it. This disease is not fun and no joke, but what it has opened my eyes to many different solutions to my own problems. It has taught us how to adapt fast, be brave, and despite the challenges we face, we get through it.

 

 

 

 

 

Colin Westby-Gibson – I’m Colin and I am six years old and was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes four days after my fourth birthday!  I want others to know that I may feel different from other kids sometimes, but I can do things that other kids do (like boogie boarding that I did last week on vacation!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cooper Wheeler – My name is Cooper Wheeler and I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes right after my second birthday back in September 2011. I am now 12 years old and going into 7th grade. Living with T1D can be a lot to manage, but it’s not as bad as you might think. I still go to school, hang out with friends, travel, and do all the things I want to do. I’m excited to be a Youth Ambassador again this year!

 

 

 

 

 

Jack Wilder – Hi, my name is Jack Wilder and I live in Charlotte, NC. I was diagnosed June 4, 2018, so I’ve had type one diabetes for three years. I’m fifteen and in tenth grade. When I was diagnosed, I remember how scary and new it all seemed, so to those living with Type 1: It is by no means fun or enjoyable, but since diagnosis, it only gets easier and more manageable. There is nothing you can’t do, and there is an amazing community of diabetics that have your back. You got this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rachel Winegarden – Hi, my name is Rachel Winegarden and I am a JDRF Youth Ambassador! I live in Cary, North Carolina and am going to be in 6th grade this year. I was diagnosed on March 7th of 2019 when I was eight years old. Something I want other kids to know about type one diabetes is that we can still eat or do anything we want, as long as we plan for it ahead of time and dose/treat for it. I also want other kids to know that T1D is an autoimmune disease, where your own immune system attacks your pancreas’s beta cells (the cells that make insulin). There is nothing that someone with T1D did or could have done to prevent it.