HOISINGTON — Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease that can strike at any time, at any age.
Currently, some 1.45 million Americans are living with T1D, with about 64,000 people — family members, neighbors, classmates — diagnosed each year. There is no known cure.
Fortunately, however, there are those who are doing all they can to find one. Kent Schnakenberg is one such person.
Schnakenberg is coming to Hoisington Thursday morning, March 9, for a special program at Hoisington Middle School, combined with Lincoln Elementary,
Since 2014, Schnakenberg, from Emporia, has been traveling around the country speaking, biking and raising money for T1D research, as well as scholarship support for children living with T1D. Part of his presentation is giving a free T-shirt to each student and staff member at both schools.
Currently, there are four students attending USD 431 schools living with T1D.
As a “thank-you,” HMS and Lincoln students have begun a coin drive. Those wishing to participate may send their child to school March 6-8 with any amount of coins for the drive. All proceeds will be given to Team Schnak to help raise funds for awareness and research for T1D.
Schnakenberg began the Team Schnak mission to help his niece Michelle, who was diagnosed with T1D at age 13 and others living with T1D.
He began by doing sponsored bike rides around the country for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). To date, Team Schnak, composed of Schnakenberg family members, has raised more than $750,000 for disease research and to send T1D kids from all around Kansas to Camp Discovery in Wichita. Their signature neon green jerseys and custom shoes have been seen in all 50 states.
In January, they unveiled Team Schnak Strong jerseys in Kansas City Chiefs colors, in support of both JDRF and the eventual Super Bowl Champions.
“I have visited all 50 states and done more than 50 school assemblies on T1D awareness,” Schnakenberg said. “I found out early on that spreading awareness of the symptoms of the disease and talking about what the disease is really about was so important.
“An average of 200 children and young adults are affected by T1D every day and most of them don’t know it’s coming,” Schnakenberg said. “So many of the kids end up very sick, in comas or the ICU because they miss the symptoms. Unfortunately, every year people die because they were misdiagnosed.”
A big difference
The main difference between T1D and Type 2 diabetes is that T1D is a genetic condition that often shows up early in life. The more common Type 2 is mainly lifestyle-related and develops over time.
In T1D, the body’s autoimmune system for some reason begins to attack the cells in the pancreas, so that it cannot make any insulin. Lifestyle isn’t a factor, nor is weight.
The pancreas is no longer capable of producing vital insulin, so the only recourse is periodic insulin injections, or doses provided by an insulin pump. While Type 2 may be regulated by medication, diet or exercise, Type 1 is managed through strict monitoring of blood sugar levels, six times a day or more.