NORTH AURORA – North Aurora teen Emily Laughead will go to Capitol Hill next month to tell her story about what it is like to have Type 1 diabetes.
Emily, 14, who will be a sophomore at Rosary High School in the fall, has been selected to attend the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Children’s Congress from July 8 to 10 in Washington, D.C. She will be one of the delegates from Illinois in the Children’s Congress.
“I want to give the disease a personal face,” Emily said.
As someone who has Type 1 diabetes, her body does not produce insulin.
She was diagnosed at age 4. Type 1 diabetes usually is diagnosed in children and young adults, and previously was known as juvenile diabetes.
Insulin is a hormone that controls the level of blood sugar (also called glucose) in the body.
There is no known way to prevent Type 1 diabetes. Emily must use an insulin pump that passes insulin into her body.
As part of the application process to the Children’s Congress, she had to make a video talking about her battle with diabetes.
She also wrote letters to U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Winfield, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; and U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., talking about her diabetes and why continued research is important.
Emily is no stranger to trying to educate others about Type 1 diabetes.
For the past several years, Emily and her family have headed Emily’s Hope, an organization that promotes Type 1 diabetes education and organizes fundraising events.
They have raised more than $56,000 for JDRF, as well as helped to spread awareness.
She has a website, www.EmilysHope.org, that is geared toward educating others about juvenile diabetes.
Emily’s Hope had a float in the recent Swedish Days Parade in Geneva, Loyalty Day Parade in Batavia and North Aurora Community Parade.
The float was named best float in the North Aurora Community Parade, and the North Aurora Mothers Club presented Emily with a trophy and a $250 check for Emily’s Hope.
Because of her efforts, she received the 2008 North Auroran of the Year and the 2010 Kane County Roscoe Ebey Kane County Citizen of the Year award.
She hopes her story has helped to educate others.
“Diabetes has made me a better leader,” she said. “It’s pushed me out of my comfort zone.”
That’s not surprising to her mother, Amy Laughead, who is proud of her daughter’s efforts.
“She doesn’t have to do this,” Amy Laughead said. “A lot of people just go through the motions. She’s an awesome kid.”