CIMARRON — When he was 10 months old, Ryan Burman received news that would change his life forever.
Burman was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease that shuts down the pancreas from producing insulin that regulates a persons blood-sugar levels.
"We were living in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, at the time," Samantha Burman, Ryan's mother, said. "We were immediately transported to the Montreal Children’s Hospital in downtown Montreal.
"Ryan was put in the PICU for three days as they slowly lowered his blood sugars down. He was very lethargic at the time so he slept most of those days. (My husband) Chad and I were given lots of information regarding nutrition, insulin, syringes, blood testing meters and general care diabetes care."
Eleven years later, Ryan Burman has become an ambassador for the Kansas City Dream Gala for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
According to jdrf.org, the 23rd annual dream gala is a dinner, auction and reception held for type 1 diabetes research.
Ryan Burman is the first ambassador to the gala to come from southwest Kansas.
The Burman family has participated in JDRF Walks for diabetes research dating back to their time in Charlotte, North Carolina, before taking part in JDRF One Walks held in Wichita.
To become an ambassador, Ryan Burman and his family submitted an application along with the activities and advocating done towards type 1 diabetes.
"They accepted him right away," his mother said. "We have made quite a few trips to Kansas City but it is worth it to spread the word about JDRF and type 1 diabetes.
"The JDRF Kansas City Dream Gala has raised over two million dollars in one night each of the last few years."
The last walk was held on April 14 at the Exploration Place in Wichita.
The annual walk is held within the first few weekends in April with this years walk raising more than $200,000.
According to Samantha Burman, if combined, the Kansas City and Wichita walks will have raised a total of a million dollars in fundraising.
Despite the advocacy, in the beginning it was still a tough ordeal for any family receiving the news of a child or loved one being diagnosed.
"This was quite a shock for our family," Samantha Burman said. "We do not have type 1 diabetes in our family history, so when the diagnosis came back we were a little stunned. We learned real quick that the disease is genetic, not necessarily hereditary."
Samantha Burman added that with the disease, Ryan's days are still that of a typical 11-year-old.
"We use the carbohydrate counting method when it comes to administering insulin to him for the food he eats," she said. "He is allowed to eat the things he wants, we just have to account for what he eats. He does have an insulin pump and has for the past 11 years.
"The past year we have had the opportunity to acquire a Continuous Glucose Monitor (or CGM), which does a reading of his blood sugar every five minutes that then communicates to an iPhone. This allows Ryan and both of us keep a closer eye on him to keep his blood sugars in the range that is safe for his body.
"Both of the sites we use for Ryan are temporary. We change his insulin site every three days and change his CGM site every seven days.
"Ryan is a fun loving 11 year old boy today. We have all chose to not let this disease bring us down. We have never allowed Ryan to use this disease as an excuse.
"We have a wonderful support system and couldn’t fight this disease without our family, friends and town of Cimarron."
To get involved with JDRF, visit their website at www.jdrf.org.
Donations can be made online or by attending any JDRF walk.
There is also a Ride to Cure Diabetes bicycling event, runs, golf tournaments, and the gala’s.
"One other way to get involved is it to become and advocate for JDRF and type 1 diabetes research," Samantha Burman said. "The advocates work tirelessly to get the funding for research to find a cure for this disease that effects so many. Without our advocates we wouldn’t be so close to a cure for type 1 diabetes.
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