It should come as no surprise that the winner of JDRF’s 2010 Writing Contest loves her language arts class. Thirteen-year-old Hannah Faircloth, who is entering eighth grade this year in Wilmington, NC, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was four years old. But despite her young age, Hannah took her diagnosis in stride, and by the time she started kindergarten, she was pricking her own fingers for blood tests.
Since then, she has refused to let type 1 diabetes slow her down. Outside of class, she’s in her school’s drama club and chorus—she hopes to be a professional singer or a music teacher one day—and she’s involved in student government.
Hannah and her family—her mother and father, Ann and Charles Faircloth, younger brother, Chuck, and younger sister, Melanie—have participated in the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes every year since Hannah’s diagnosis. That family tradition became doubly important to the Faircloths earlier this year, when six-year-old Melanie was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in March. Hannah never left Melanie’s side at the hospital after the diagnosis, and since then, she has become an excellent role model for her sister. “Hannah has really been an inspiration for her own family,” says Ann.
We think her words will inspire JDRF readers too:
I’m Hannah Faircloth, and I’m 13 years old. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was four years old, which means that I’ve had diabetes for nine years. When I was diagnosed with this disease, I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know what would happen to me, or how long I would have diabetes.
Since the age of four, I have participated in the annual JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes. I believe that type 1 diabetes makes me stronger, so I can get through pain and other miserable emotions faster than other people. It has also made me brave. When people pick on me, I am able to just tell them to grow up, and keep walking. I don’t let other people, or my disease, get me down or allow me not to be “normal.” In my mind, no one is “normal” anyway. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has something wrong at least once in his/her life. I never see anyone being picked on or teased for having a cold! It’s as basic as that.
Having type 1 diabetes also makes me a better person. I am able to be myself and not worry about what others think because I’ve already gone through sadness and embarrassment because I was teased about having my pump and having to check my blood sugar before I eat. So with the encouragement and support of my family and friends, those emotions and struggles are behind me. I am able to be a better me, and I will continue to, while chasing my dreams, being myself, and conquering type 1 diabetes day by day.