Lakeville Area Public Schools students will change the world.
Some already are, and Lakeville South High School’s Karly Lewis is among them.
The senior volleyball player has been making a difference in the classroom and on the court as a leader of her volleyball team.
But it’s her contributions to a disease she’s known all her life that may leave the most lasting mark: Type 1 diabetes.
At 16, Lewis was diagnosed with the life-altering condition in which a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin. It affects 1.25 million people in the United States, according to the American Diabetes Association. It’s meant learning to take care of herself by testing her blood sugar and administering insulin multiple times a day.
It’s a diagnosis that has forever changed her, but never will define her.
“It’s not an exact science,” Lewis said, but she has learned to manage the condition.
At first, Lewis said she didn’t want to tell anyone but decided to open up, enabling her classmates, friends, teammates and teachers to better look out for her, but also raise awareness about juvenile diabetes.
In some ways, Lewis said the diagnosis and what it means are still sinking in. She said she’s felt fortunate being able to talk with her older sister about her sister’s own experience with managing Type 1 diabetes. Her sister was diagnosed with it at 15 months old.
“Every minute of the day you’re dealing with the disease. You don’t get a vacation” from it, Lewis said. “It has made me a better, stronger person.”
If anything, Lewis said having Type 1 diabetes has made her a stronger person because she’s learned how to take care of herself and work to achieve her goals despite the adversity.
Lewis already is taking steps to help researchers find a cure by taking part in a research study and leading teams in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s fundraising walk. She’ll be leading the charge again on Feb. 25.
Activities Director Neil Strader said he’s impressed with Lewis’ leadership in the classroom and on the court, adding she’s become a role model for other students in Lakeville who have juvenile diabetes.
“She’s showing other kids that she won’t let this diagnosis stand in her way,” Strader said.
In the fall, Lewis plans to attend the University of Minnesota, where she’s already earned early admission to the School of Nursing. In addition to finding a cure for Type 1 diabetes, Lewis’ dream is to care for children as a nurse at a children’s hospital.
On Feb. 2, Lewis was featured on KSTP 5 Eyewitness News as an ambassador for JDRF’s upcoming walk.
To learn more about juvenile diabetes or the upcoming walk Feb. 25 at the Mall of America, go to http://www.jdrf.org/minndakotas/blog/.