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For the Gilberts, Diabetes Camp Was More Than They Expected
When the Gilbert family attended Camp Kandu in Florence, Mississippi, last year, it was their first time at a diabetes camp. Their hope was that their 5-year-old son, DeJuan, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 2, would get to know other children like himself.
The camp, one of hundreds around the country, was offered by the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi. “Our whole family went. It was a great experience!” says DeJuan’s mother, Kenyada. “In addition to educational sessions, there were hayrides and bonfires. It was so beautiful and peaceful! They taught the kids about being self-sufficient and provided classes for the parents too.”
In one of the sessions for parents, the Gilberts learned about type 1 diabetes research being conducted by TrialNet, including screenings for family members available at camp.
“I was apprehensive at first. Some people want to know. Some don’t,” explains Kenyada. “But the more I thought about it, the more I thought we should get tested.”
They arrived at the camp screening location just as Research Coordinator Della Matheson was packing up. The Gilberts ran up, calling out, “Wait! Wait!” Della stopped packing, and both Kenyada and husband DeJuan, Sr., were screened, as well as their 2-year-old son, TreJuan.
When the results came back, the Gilberts learned TreJuan had an increased risk for type 1 diabetes.
“When I found out that our 2-year-old was at risk, my heart stopped. But when I thought about it, I realized that my first son was diagnosed at age 2. This time around, the science has given us the opportunity to catch and treat the disease at its earliest stages.”
The Gilberts immediately enrolled TreJuan in the Oral Insulin Prevention Study at the University of Miami. “Even though I was scared, I knew we had to move forward. It may not benefit my child, but it may help my child’s child or another child. I’m the kind of person that if I can stop something, I will. We want a cure.”
In April, TreJuan completed his first visit as part of the study. It took about 20 minutes.
Kenyada says, “He’s too young to really understand why we’re doing it, but one day he will. If the kids only knew how far things have come. The sky is the limit when it comes to science!”
The Gilberts will return to Camp Kandu again this May.
To find a diabetes camp near you, visit www.diabetescamps.org.