Childhood Diabetes On The Rise: One East Texas Girl's Story

"She practices soccer on the weekend, she goes to Awanna's which is a church activity. She's just an outgoing child."

A typical description of many eight year olds, but maybe not what you'd expect to hear about a child with diabetes. For Kayla Welvaert and her family, it's something they've been dealing since she was only six.

"It was scary, I didn't even know what that was," says Kayla, a third grader in Lindale.

Hr parents, Ben and Christy, say there have been many changes in their day to day lives.

"It's not a normal life, but it's normal for us. You've got to make sure you got the glucometer to check blood sugar, and make sure you have some kind of snack on hand just in case something happens. You don't just get up and run out of the house like you used to," says Kayla's father, Ben.

Other changes for Kayla, insulin injections, at least 4 everyday, which the eight year old has learned to give herself, an act her mother calls brave and inspiring.

"She grew up very fast, and I think most children with diabetes do grow up very fast. They're aware of what they're going to have to do the rest of their lives," says Christy Welvaert.

Since Kayla's diagnosis, the Welvaerts have noticed the disease growing in East Texas, something Kayla's Endocrinologist affirms.

"We are now adding about one new kid a week to the practice. The main increase we're seeing is in type two diabetes. The increase in kids has been phenomenal," says Dr. Meg Reitmeyer of Trinity Mother Frances Hospital.

Which is why financial support is vital for the health of kids like Kayla and hope for parents like Christy.

"I think within her life span we might find something to fix it, but we need money to do so," says Christy.

Money for research and new technology like insulin pumps, similar to the one Kayla wears to replace her shots, let her do everything from swimming to playing soccer.

"We want everyone to know that a child with diabetes is still a child and they can do anything they want to do."

Clearly something Kayla already knows.

To help raise money and awareness for diabetes, the Welvaerts say they are planning to be at Bergfeld Park for the "American Walk For Diabetes."

To sponsor or join the walk, call Joanne Mills at 318-773-3340. The walk starts at 9:00 a.m. on November 6th.

Reporting: Braid Sharp