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Diabetes Struggle Is No Walk In The Park For Ridgewood Girl

Laurel Kennedy of Ridgewood will walk Sunday at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation One Walk at the New Overpeck Park in Ridgefield Park. Kennedy is a sixth-grader with Type 1 Diabetes.
Laurel Kennedy of Ridgewood will walk Sunday at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation One Walk at the New Overpeck Park in Ridgefield Park. Kennedy is a sixth-grader with Type 1 Diabetes. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Nancy Kennedy

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. -- Diabetes threw Laurel Kennedy’s life into turmoil five years ago. Now, the sixth-grader from Ridgewood and her family are fighting back to help create a world free from the disease.

Kennedy’s mother, Nancy, will walk on Sunday in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation One Walk on Sunday in Ridgefield Park. It begins at 10 a.m. at the New Overpeck Park.

Kennedy, her daughter and family, are supporting the walk to help find a cure for Juvenile Diabetes. It has had a profound impact on their lives.

“It can turn her life upside down, inside out in the matter of seconds,’’ Nancy Kennedy wrote on her fundraising page. “But it is what one chooses to do with it, that makes the difference in your life. Our story is one of both struggles and accomplishments. It is a story that brought new friends into our lives, ones that we would have never met , had not been for diabetes. It’s a story of love, courage and hope.”

The Kennedys have done their best to manage the disease while Laurel seeks a normal childhood. She plays lacrosse, enjoys biking and takes musical theater classes. “She is no different than anyone else , with the one exception that diabetes is a word in her dictionary,’’ Nancy said.

A semblance of normalcy, however, has its challenges. Laurel spent significant time in the summer at camps in Massachusetts and Connecticut where she was educated on how to manage the daily rigors of diabetes.

She made the leap from injecting insulin with a syringe, to wearing an insulin pump that delivers her insulin with the push of a button. Nancy has access to a continuous monitor that enables to see her daughter’s blood pressure at any time.

“But these come with a price tag .... her loss of self esteem,’’ Kennedy said. “Imagine wearing two devices just to keep you alive? This we continue to struggle with. She has learned how to put her own pump site in and has even allowed a friend to put one in for her! And then there is the feeling of being different than your friends ... his is a work in progress.”

School also poses challenges for Laurel and other students in Ridgewood. There are 21 Type One Diabetics in the school district. Laurel, like many of others, visits the nurse’s office several times a day, to prick their finger, inject themselves with insulin via a needle or take insulin from a pump.

Laurel’s younger sister, Kailey, is considered early onset for Type 1 Diabetes, according to Nancy. “She was tested through a trial and has a 99 percent chance of developing Type 1. She has already presented with some symptoms. It's a waiting game with her.”

Nancy is the first to admit living with a daughter with Type 1 Diabetes is not easy. "We are amazed by her strength as she continues to walk down this path,''' she said. "We do what we need to do to make her life as care free as possible. But at the end of the day, no matter what we do, diabetes is there. It is a time bomb that can explode at any moment."

Readers can click here to make a donation through Nancy’s fundraising page. More information is also available on the event website.

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