BEAVERCREEK — A chance meeting at a softball camp helped Julieta Jordt feel a little more at ease about having type 1 diabetes.
Now the 10-year-old Beavercreek girl is hoping to do the same for other kids with T1D. Jordt, a fifth-grader at St. Brigid school in Xenia, was chosen to be a member of the JDRF Youth Ambassador program for the 2020-2021 school year. She was diagnosed with T1D — an autoimmune disease where the body destroys its own insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas — in May 2019.
The competitive ambassador program each year selects children who live with T1D and who serve as a great example of living with the disease. That’s how Jordt felt about 2020 Carroll High School grad Jessica Babros — who also has T1D — when the two met at a softball camp at the school not long after her diagnosis.
“It was very to nice to (know) a girl who’s been through the same thing that I’m going to go through, so I know I’m going to be OK,” Jordt said. “She knew how I felt.”
Babros was a big part of why Jordt wanted to become an ambassador.
“She influenced me a lot,” Jordt said. “She was very nice.”
As an ambassador, Jordt — one of an estimated 30,800 residents of the southwest Ohio area who live with T1D — will represent JDRF and share her experience about living with T1D. Jordt will provide health education throughout the community to raise support and awareness of type 1 diabetes. She will also speak to businesses, schools, and hospitals, as well as participate in JDRF sanctioned outreach events.
“It’s kind of cool,” Jordt said. “I was very excited because I knew that I would get to help a lot of people. I can spread awareness about this disease. If some people don’t know about this disease, and their children have symptoms, they could get in big trouble. That’s why I want to spread awareness. Educate people what it’s like.”
While having T1D forces some changes to Jordt’s daily life, she knows how to manage it.
“It’s a bit different from before I was diagnosed,” she said. “When you have to eat you have to give yourself insulin and then you eat and you have to watch your numbers.”
As a softball player, Jordt also has to take precautions before playing. She usually eats a snack before a game to get her level higher, and then the game works it down to a normal level.
“It’s a sport that’s conducive to it so you can take care of things,” said Jordt’s father, Gus. “You try to stay ahead of dropping too low.”
There is no known cure for T1D so Jordt will be insulin dependent for the rest of her life, or until there’s a cure. At the beginning of the year Jordt went from shots to a pump that gives her the right amount of insulin through a tube into her stomach. She also wears a continuous glucose monitor on her arm which sends readings to her parents’ phones, eliminating the need for those pesky finger pricks.
“Before I had my insulin pump, I was on a syringe. You would usually count the carbs on the nutritional guide,” Jordt said. “You’d gather the carbs … then you would add all those up and you would divide it by your carb ratio.”
Then she had to carry the three, multiply by Pi, and add in the square root of Thursday.
“Every time (she) ate it was a math problem,” Gus said.
If her levels are too high, Jordt does some jumping jacks, uses an elliptical, or runs around the yard a few times.
“We try all sorts of things,” Gus said.
Those are the types of real-life experiences Jordt will get to share with others.
“JDRF Youth Ambassadors are a critical part of our work, as they help advance the cause and build awareness of type 1 diabetes,” said chapter Executive Director Melissa Newman. “These young people volunteer their time and put themselves out there in sharing their story, which includes the struggles of living with T1D, and we are appreciative of their efforts.”
Just like Jordt was appreciative of Babros.