Local Mothers Fight Diabetes

WHEELING – All 7-year-old Nicole Wallace wants is the ability to eat sugary snacks like cookies or doughnuts with her classmates. But since she was diagnosed with diabetes on Nov. 14, 2007, her life has been on a rigid schedule for eating and testing her blood glucose levels several times each day.

Nicole could soon see her sugar-plum wishes come true thanks to an insulin pump that will be partially paid for by a group of local women who are working to raise awareness about diabetes while helping families pay for needed medical supplies.

The group – originally consisting of Melissa Adams, Marcie Brammer, Tammy Paree and Susan Harrison – will hold a spaghetti dinner for Nicole from 1-4 p.m. Sunday, April 26, at the Church of Christ, 1310 National Road, Wheeling. Dine in and carry out meals will be available, and children 5 and under will only have to pay half price.

Dianna’s Cake and Catering will cater the dinner, and Girl Scout Troop No. 8042 is helping with the event. Tickets will also be available for a Chinese raffle with prizes such as an autographed picture of Brad Paisley and tickets to the Washington Wild Things, Pittsburgh Pirates and even a filming of Dr. Phil.

This is the second benefit dinner the group has organized. The first took place in February for a boy named Sam Marshall, Adams said.

That spaghetti dinner was organized after Adams and Paree found out that their friend Kate Marshall wanted to get an insulin pump for her 10-year-old son, who had been suffering migraines as a complication of his diabetes. The family’s insurance would only cover half the cost of the $6,000 pump, so the friends decided to hold a benefit to help.

Held Feb. 8, the dinner raised nearly $7,000, more than enough to cover Sam’s expenses. That money was placed in a trust fund, and Sam should receive his pump in August.

“I thought it was pretty cool. We got a lot of guests,” Sam Marshall said. “We had to go and get spaghetti two times because we ran out.”

The success of the first benefit made the group want to hold another in the fall, but one day when Adams stopped by Steenrod Elementary School, the secretary told her that a girl in second grade had diabetes. Nicole’s family has bought an insulin pump and monitor for her, but their insurance co-pay will amount to $2,000 once they receive the bill.

The committee, including Kate Marshall, decided to hold the upcoming spaghetti dinner in Nicole’s honor. Her pump will be paid for using money already in the trust fund, and the proceeds of this benefit will also go into the fund to continue helping children of the Upper Ohio Valley who suffer from diabetes.

Nicole’s mother, Debbie Wallace, said that she’s joined the committee and will help organize future benefits because there are so few local resources for parents of children with diabetes. The mothers hope they can hold more fundraisers and an awareness walk to offset medical expenses and to let families know they’re not alone. For now, she’s grateful for any support.

“My daughter’s school has a store, and one of her classmates had 50 cents as change. He came up to her and said, ‘I want you to have your insulin pump. Here’s 50 cents,'” Wallace said. “That goes to show what kind of parents that little boy has. People around here will give the last bit of money they have to help others.”

For more information, call Tammy Paree at 304-242-2219 or Kate Marshall at 304-218-8373.