She went door-to-door in her neighborhood, held a rummage sale and even sold her Halloween candy.
And 10-year-old Kaitlin Bird of Brainerd hopes her efforts to raise money for the American Diabetes Association will one day pay off by helping to find a cure for diabetes.
Kaitlin, a Riverside Elementary fourth-grader, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 6. She plans to walk Sunday at the Metrodome in Minneapolis in the ADA's America's Walk for Diabetes, a fund-raising event in various locations throughout the year, including in Brainerd.
Kaitlin may only be 10, but she has become a serious fund-raising machine. The fourth-grader as of Thursday raised $1,200 for Sunday's diabetes walk. She started by walking around her neighborhood asking for donations. Within the first hour, she had raised more than $200. Her mom, Tracie Bird, soon realized that if her daughter was going to work hard raising donations, then she should help her, too. Her three siblings also have helped out.
Kaitlin asked her teachers for donations and held a rummage sale at her house during a recent school break. She also sold her Halloween candy to a friend.
"She's worked really hard," said her mom.
Kaitlin will be walking with the Camp Needlepoint team Sunday. Kaitlin has attended Camp Needlepoint for one week during the past two summers. Camp Needlepoint is a camp near Hudson, Wis., each summer for children with insulin-dependent diabetes.
Kaitlin said having diabetes has its ups and downs. She has fun at camp, especially getting to know other campers and counselors who have diabetes.
"The good part about it is going to camp," the 10-year-old explained, about diabetes. "The bad part about it is taking shots."
Six weeks ago Kaitlin switched from giving herself daily insulin injections to wearing at her waist an insulin pump, which administers insulin directly to her throughout the day and night. She continues to test her blood by pricking her finger about eight times a day. Her older brother, Kory, who is 18, also has diabetes. He was diagnosed when he was 9.
"It was a double fluke," said Tracie. Despite the fact two of her four children have the disease, no one else in her family has had diabetes.
Kaitlin said she hopes that one day a cure for diabetes is found.
"Because I want everyone to be free of shots and not have to check their blood sugar every day," Kaitlin said.
Kaitlin said it can be frustrating to have diabetes, not so much because she can't have certain foods high in sugar but because sometimes people assume she can't have any sugar at all because she has diabetes and won't offer her something because of it, even though it is offered to everyone else.
"People should know we can have sugar," she said.
Kaitlin this fall will help with a diabetes education program at her school, teaching other students about what it means to have diabetes and talking about how she manages the disease.
Kaitlin would like to one day become a teacher herself. Her mom, Tracie, has a home day care. Kaitlin loves to teach the day-care children and read to them afterschool.
"She's just a caring person," said Tracie, of her daughter. "She loves everything from kids to animals."
Kaitlin is excited about Sunday's diabetes walk. Her 20-year-old sister Kristina plans to walk, as well as her mom and friend Mike O'Brien. Tracie may be even more excited about the walk than her daughter because the walk is in the Metrodome.
"I can't wait to walk on the field," said Tracie. "I'm a big Vikings fan."
Tracie said her daughter does a great job of managing her diabetes and is very responsible. Even though she had a son with diabetes, it was difficult when Kaitlin was diagnosed at age 6. The first few weeks it was heartbreaking having to hold down her daughter and give her shots because she hated the needles.
Diabetes hasn't held Kaitlin back in her young life. She enjoys singing in the school choir, loves to read and likes to play football and basketball as well as skateboard.
Kaitlin said she'll likely participate in the Walk for Diabetes next year as well.
JODIE TWEED can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5858.
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