NCMS student selling 'Let's Dia-Beat-This' bracelets for juvenile diabetes research

NCMS student selling 'Let's Dia-Beat-This' bracelets for juvenile diabetes research

North Cumberland Middle School 7th-graders Heather Columbo, left, and Madison Poulin hold up one of the "Let's Dia-Beat-This" bracelets they have been selling during lunch to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. (VALLEY BREEZE PHOTO BY MEGHAN KAVANAUGH)

CUMBERLAND - A North Cumberland Middle School 7th-grader has called upon her classmates to support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Green rubber bracelets that say "Let's Dia-Beat-This" are the "it" accessory at the middle school these days, Principal Bethany Coughlin said, all thanks to 12-year-old Madison Poulin.

Madison was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 4 years old. She was also the first child in America to be fitted with a special insulin pump, she said, which she changes every three days as opposed to getting regular shots.

The disease, which causes the body to not produce insulin, runs in her family. Her cousin and grandfather also have Type 1 diabetes, which affects only 5 percent of diabetics, and her older brother, Tommy, was diagnosed at age 6, just a week after Madison.

She got the idea to sell bracelets for the cause at lunch, while sweetening the pot with gift certificates to Angelo's Palace Pizza awarded to one participating student in each grade.

In two weeks she has raised almost $500.

"It was coordinated solely by Madison. She did a great job. I'm very impressed with her leadership skills," Coughlin said. "The students were really excited about it. It became the bracelet to get."

Madison did have some help, though, both from her parents, Tom and Annette Poulin, and best friend, fellow 7th-grader Heather Columbo.

The friends met by chance in kindergarten, when they bumped heads outside of school and were sent to the nurse.

But it was there they realized that they both had Type 1 diabetes, something they said has made them even closer friends.

Heather was diagnosed at age 6, but was the first in her family to have the disease. Her grandfather had Type 2, she said, but her diagnosis is a mystery.

Both girls know first-hand how disruptive, at the very least, the disease can be throughout the day.

Madison checks her blood sugar levels four times while at school: after second period, before lunch, after lunch, and at the end of the day. If levels are below 90, she has to eat 100 percent pure sugar. If they are above 300, she has to drink plenty of water.

Heather, and other children with juvenile diabetes, are allies for Madison, she said. She met a lot of other kids at a JDRF 5K walk in October.

"It's easier to talk to them about it," she said. "It's hard to describe. It's just easy to talk to them."

Coughlin said it has been encouraging to see Madison raise awareness about the cause and get other students talking.

"She's an excellent role model," she said. "We're very proud of her."

Visit www.jdrf.com for more information, or contact the school at 401-333-6306 to purchase bracelets, which will also be made available during parent-teacher conferences.