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FGCU student creates event to bring awareness to diabetes

EN Photo / Javier Moncada

Brenda Hernandez wants to save as many kids as she can.

The FGCU junior is hosting her own service learning event with Help A Diabetic Child and bringing awareness to students about a huge topic – Type 1 diabetes.

The honors and biology student first became involved with the organization, Help A Diabetic Child, after enrolling in Lead and Service, a class that focuses on service learning in the community and she chose it after meeting them at the service learning fair.

“I was so interested in Help A Diabetic Child because of the way the founder explained the mission inspired me,” Hernandez said. “I wanted to be part of that.  I wanted to make an impact in the lives of children and especially college students who have diabetes.”

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Though she isn’t diabetic herself, Hernandez explains that part of the reason she has come to love the organization is because of how it relates to her life.

Before becoming involved, she found out that her pregnant family member was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and the news shocked her.

“I kept asking, ‘what’s going to happen to the baby?’ and it’s scary because there’s so much work involved in staying healthy, especially when you have a child inside of you,” Hernandez said.

She went on to explain that her family helped her understand the disease and how much work it takes to stay healthy.

“There were certain things she couldn’t eat and so she would cut herself short if her blood levels were too high in the morning, and it made me feel bad,” Hernandez said.

With this in mind, Hernandez went to Help A Diabetic Child and proposed an idea to raise awareness about diabetes, and raise money for the organization.

“Help A Diabetic Child was founded to help students and children get the supplies that they can’t afford,” Hernandez said. “And I think it’s important to let college students know that there’s help out there for helping them get their supplies.”

The organization uses donations to purchase deliver diabetic supplies free of charge for those in need.

This year, the organization has helped five college students in the last six months, but Hernandez is hoping that by creating events like Pumper the Pumpkin, she can raise that number.

By partnering with the YMCA and Help A Diabetic Child, Hernandez will be hosting Pumper the Pumpkin at the Naples YMCA location on Oct. 22 from noon to 2 p.m.

Held during the YMCA’s fall festival, Pumper the Pumpkin strives to bring awareness to Type 1 diabetes through fun.

“We will provide small pumpkins and paint supplies to paint and while they do that, we will educate them about diabetes,” Hernandez said. “There will be an insulin pump on a pumpkin and we hope that kids will ask why it’s there so it gives us the opportunity to explain why kids can’t do certain things. If we educate these young generations, it will help them understand how life threatening this can be.”

Though the event is free, there will be donation boxes set up for guests who, according to  Hernandez,  will receive a raffle ticket to the diabetic conference held on Nov. 4, where prizes will be given away.

The event is open to the general public, but Hernandez urges FGCU students to not only come out and show their support, but also to volunteer their time in exchange for service learning hours of their own.

While she does hope that she and the founder of Help A Diabetic Child can handle the event, the organization is small and requires some help. With more students, Hernandez says that there will be more opportunities to have one-on-one conversations with kids to help them learn about health.

If students miss the event, there are always opportunities to help the organization and earn service learning hours – which are a requirement for graduation.

Contact Hernandez at [email protected] or go directly to the Help A Diabetic Child’s website for more information.

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