Whitlee: Courage in the Face of Adversity

active girl with type 1

From day one, Whitlee was a girl who knew what she wanted and didn’t need or want any help doing it. Not surprisingly, her first word was “myself”, and that attitude has been with her ever since. At four years old, she announced to her mother one day after a dance lesson that she wouldn’t be going back to dance class, explaining that “I just want to focus on sports”. And focus she did, asking to be signed up for any and every sport her parents would allow. Her love of all things sports made it even more devastating when she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 4 years old. But while her parents and family sat and worried about how this new challenge would change her life, Whitlee didn’t slow down a bit and was only concerned how she was going to keep that annoying Insulin pump from getting in the way while playing sports. Months later, she stood up in front of her new Kindergarten class with all the confidence in the world to explain how an insulin pump works and why she has to poke her finger till it bleeds 8 times a day. In spite of being different than the other kids, her confidence and kindness toward others has made her a friend to all and leader to those around her, as evidenced by the fact that nearly every team she played on before age 10 ended up being called “the puppies”, her favorite animal. Since she didn’t want to be dependent on anybody to be able to eat after being diagnosed, Whitlee taught herself by age 8 to count carbs and multiply and divide to figure out serving sizes.

Whitlee’s motivation and drive to succeed are a marvel to those around her. She is constantly asking for somebody...anybody to play catch with her, pitch a baseball to her, kick a ball at her (yes, at her, so she can practice being a soccer goalie), play horse on the basketball court, give her words to spell or math problems to solve. In spite of her small size, Whitlee has played up with older girls on her soccer team since she was 8 years old. This fall she tried out for, and made, the middle school 8th grade team, as a 7th grader, where she had a great season, even though most of her teammates and the competition outweigh her by 30 or 40 pounds. She has been a straight A student since her very first report card and works very hard to do her best in school, piano and everything else she does.

teenager with diabetes

But, even with all of talents and endearing personality, the single greatest thing Whitlee has taught to those around her is courage in the face of adversity and to play the hand you’re dealt. You’ll never hear a word escape her lips about feeling sorry for herself or wondering “why me?”. Instead, she likes to joke about how lucky she is because whenever she has low blood-sugar, she gets drink soda pop, even when nobody else does. She was asked one day by her mom what she would change about herself if she could choose one thing and her reply was “Nothing, I like the way I am”. That attitude has helped Whitlee to become a winner at everything she tries, whether it’s soccer, baseball, basketball, school or just life.