Kids connect through a chronic disease

Camp Hot Shots (NTV News)

Diabetes is one of the most common chronic childhood diseases and according Mary Lanning Health Care in Hastings, about 215,000 kids are living with the disease in the United States.

For the 17th year, Camp Hot Shots is bringing together more than 20 area youth all bonding over their disease.

"When you're the only student or only person in your community with diabetes and nobody else in the area is doing it, it's hard to stay in the habit or hard to want to continue to do it," said Camp Hot Shots coordinator, Deann Carpenter. "I think it's a nice time to come together and realize you're not alone."

The impact of the camp and the connections made, is lasting.

"I've been coming to Camp Hot Shots since I was five years old," said former camper turned assistant counselor, Peyton Calhoun. "I've been diagnosed since I was two and I remember coming to camp and it was just so amazing to get to know there were other people out here like me."

"I think my favorite part would be playing with kids and with my friends," said young camper, Addie Kohmetscher.

The kids are doing more than just having fun and connecting, though. They are learning valuable lessons too.

"We talk about making sure we have a medical alert bracelet so that other people are aware that you have diabetes, how to treat high blood sugars, how to treat low blood sugars, all of our meals they'll do carb counting," said Carpenter.

"I feel like it's very important because a lot of times kids don't really know what the effects of not taking care of yourself might be," said Calhoun.

Now that Calhoun is older, she is enjoying being a counselor as much as being a camper.

"I love it," said Calhoun. "I love seeing kids just be able to feel maybe more fit in than they might be somewhere else and just to be accepted and loved here."

"Only about five to 10 percent of all people have type one diabetes," said Carpenter. "That's where the pancreas has stopped making insulin."

That means a life time of daily monitoring and sometimes injections for these campers.

"[I] check my blood before I eat, get my insulin if I'm high, stuff like that," said Kohmetscher.

"And if it's goes low, I have to eat something," said Calhoun.

For more information on these camps, call 402-461-5318.

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