Five Young Diabetes Advocates to Watch

We share the stories of five youth who are making an impact in the diabetes community.



On December 9, 2017, an 11-year old with Type 1 diabetes set a world record when he became the youngest person to cross America on foot. Noah Barnes trekked 4,240 miles– from Key West, FL to Blaine, WA– to draw attention to diabetes and fundraise for a cure. He and his father walked approximately 12 miles per day, as his mother and siblings followed in a Jeep with extra testing supplies, food, and other support. Somehow, the family managed to finish two months ahead of schedule. The idea was Noah’s, and his parents gave up their lives to make it happen. They quit their jobs, sold their house, and cashed in their 401K. At the time of publication, Noah had raised $28,693. But he’s still taking donations. To make a contribution or read more about his journey, visit his foundation’s page.

One of Insulin Nation’s Facebook community members is raising money to improve hospital stays for patients at Wolfson’s Childrens Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, where he stayed for four days when he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Duncan Ledyard was 12 at the time, and he remembers feeling too outgrown for the games and activities that the unit provided. He was desperate for an activity to take his mind off the stress and fear of a new diagnosis. So, now, as part of a Be the Change challenge at his school, he’s raising money to purchase video gaming systems that can be wheeled to the rooms of older patients. Duncan says, “If you have ever had to stay in the hospital, you know it can be scary, lonely, and tedious. If I can help even one kid escape those feelings for just a little bit, I can BE the change.” Want to learn more? Go to his gofundme page.

A 10-year-old girl from Rhode Island has started her own business to raise money for the cause. Hannah Grace, who has had Type 1 diabetes since 11 months olds, sells bath bombs for her business BeYOUtiful, and she gives 20% of sales to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). In her video about her work, she says, ““I want to give back for people in need. And I think it would be really nice to help them find a cure.” She is currently offering a “Love Bomb” for Valentine’s Day, which smells like Rose Petal. There is a “Happy Birthday” scent (Vanilla Cake), as well as classic scents like Eucalyptus, Strawberry Lemonade, and Cucumber Melon.

Thomas Skues, a10-year-old boy from the UK, swam 2.1 miles in the Make a Splash challenge in Dover to raise over £2,000 for JDRF. More Make a Splash sponsored swim events are scheduled to take place across the country in the next few months. Participation in these events is very flexible. The contest welcomes children of all ages and abilities, allowing swimmers to swim between 1 to 21 miles. Thomas had this to say about his experience: “I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when I was five years old, so have been living with the condition for half of my life. I really enjoyed the sponsored swim, and I’m really proud I’ve raised so much money to help find a cure for type 1 diabetes.”

As we reported earlier this month, a Florida teen is selling artwork to raise money for JDRF. Amber Hall recently hosted an event at the Outer Space Gallery and Studio in Winter Haven, Florida. She also sells work on her website, where patrons can commission their own piece. She typically sketches her subject first, then adds acrylic or watercolor. She does not restrict herself to one style or genre. She experiments with Abstract, Modern, Contemporary, Cartoon, Pop Art, and Mixed Media. Check out her website to see samples of her work and current inventory.

Do you know any other youth in the U.S. or around the world who are making an impact in the diabetes community? Let us know so that we can share their stories.

Do you have an idea you would like to write about for Insulin Nation? Send your pitch to submissions@insulinnation.com.
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Audrey Farley is a former editor of Insulin Nation.