Boardman boy represents Youngstown as 2016 diabetes ambassador


By Bruce Walton

bwalton@vindy.com

BOARDMAN

Carter Lathom and his family heard a diagnosis that would change their lives after Carter spent three days at the Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley in March 2015.

Carter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, a deadly disease if left unchecked.

Many thought he’d have a difficult time adjusting, or at the very least, coming to terms with it as a second-grader.

A year later, Carter, 8, has the role as the 2016 Red Strider ambassador for the American Diabetes Association, representing people diagnosed with diabetes.

Benjamin Fortin, associate manager of online engagement of the nonprofit association, said each year they choose an ambassador who exemplifies what life is like living with Type 1 or 2 diabetes.

Diabetes results from having too much sugar in the blood. According to the WebMD website, Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin.

Carter will be recognized as the ambassador representing Youngstown at the Akron Step Out Walk on Sept. 18 at the University of Akron beside the Akron ambassador.

Carter was offered the position after he attended the Youngstown Step Out Walk in 2015 and raised more than $600 through the pledges.

“He was a top pick. He really showed himself and really stood out amongst everybody at the event last year,” Fortin said.

Throughout the day, Carter takes insulin injections and another before going to bed. During school at West Boulevard Elementary, he has to test his blood sugar in the nurse’s office and call his mother, Heather.

The groceries at their home are divided into their proper amount of carbohydrates. With diabetes, Carter can’t have his favorite food, pizza, as much as he wants.

“It’s been going good,” he said. “I still don’t like taking shots.”

As the ambassador, Carter wrote an essay about living with diabetes and was interviewed for a video, both featured on the organization’s website.

Although this disease is fairly new to him, it’s not new to his family.

His father, Scott, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 26 and uses an insulin pump to regulate his blood sugar. Heather said it’s been difficult trying not to worry about her son whenever he’s away at school or at the Boardman Adventure Camp in the summer or at sleepovers.

“I worry when he stays at friends’ houses, not that I don’t trust the parents,” she said. “I know how kids get distracted and parents get distracted, especially if they’re not used to following a regimen.”

Carter looks forward to attending the walk and meet other people with diabetes.

“I’m lucky to have something that can be managed, something that pretty much allows me to still live my life the way I want and still have an opportunity to have a great future,” he wrote in an essay to the organization.

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