Announcing the 2019 JDRF Ride to Cure Youth Ambassador – Leo Rowen

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We are pleased to introduce the 2019 JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes Youth Ambassador, Leo! If you are looking for a T1D to help tell your donors why you Ride, refresh your own story and strategy or simply to help put a face to the cause, we welcome you to use Leo as a resource. He is happy to visit your place of employment, do a Q&A with you, etc.  I can connect you directly to the family for anything that you need that can enhance your fundraising efforts.

Leo’s T1D story & message:

Hello my name is Leo Rowen and I am 13 years old and I live in Milwaukee. I like to think of myself as a normal kid. I have an identical twin brother, and a younger brother. I like to play basketball, video games, and I love Legos, Marvel movies and comic books.

I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when I was in 1st grade and now have had it for more than half of my life. I am one of the over 1.25 million Americans with T1D.

I did not get diabetes from eating too much sugar. T1D is not preventable and it’s not curable either.   I can eat a donut for breakfast if I want to, but I have to give myself insulin for it.  I also have to give myself insulin when I eat an apple.  I also have to give myself more insulin right now because writing this is making me a little nervous and when I get nervous, my blood sugar rises.  When your blood sugar rises, you don’t have to think about it.  Your pancreas takes care of it for you. I can eat whatever I want if I dose the corresponding amount of insulin.  For people with Type 1 diabetes, insulin is life.  Without insulin, your body breaks down necessary fats and proteins that are important parts of your body, causing damage to many organs like your kidneys, liver, and eyes. Without insulin, I would most certainly die a painful death.

I think that access to insulin at a fair, affordable cost is a human right. Insulin is expensive and the price keeps going up. I am thankful that JDRF advocates for access to insulin for everyone.

Similar to some of the comic book characters I follow, I use highly advanced wearable tech. But I use mine to treat and manage my T1D. I wear an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor that tracks my blood sugar in real time and sends that data to my phone. Over the years JDRF has helped fund the research that created these amazing pieces of technology. I am very thankful for that.

I really do try to live like a normal kid. But through all of these things, I can never forget about T1D. I can’t just grab my basketball and go play-I have to check my numbers and bring my supplies. I have to always prepare to deal with the highs and lows of my blood sugar from exercising.  I can’t be spontaneous and just jump on a bike and head out for a long ride like you. The blood sugar numbers are always there and on my mind and it is a constant issue to keep track of. Sometimes I hate it. Sometimes I wish I had a break.

Thank you so much for agreeing to support JDRF’s Ride to Cure Diabetes. With your help, we can help fund research to improve the quality of life for millions of people like me and maybe finally find a cure. My family and I are so grateful for your contributions. It means the world to us.

Thank you.