Posted on Wed, Jun. 09, 2004

Hudson 11-year-old mounts fight against diabetes
Determined to help find a cure
Girl organizes team to raise funds, asks minister to help seek donations on his cross-country bicycle trip

Beacon Journal staff writer

As 11-year-old Stephanie Treubig backs Fia, a chestnut mare, into the stable at Sahbra Farm in Streetsboro, she knows she has her hands full.

Fia, who is known for her feistiness, bucks at Stephanie, kicking up her hind legs and snorting, in an attempt to avoid being washed.

But this young Hudson girl is ready for anything Fia can dish out.

She cajoles Fia, untangling her mane as she combs it and removing the stones and mud from her hooves. When all is said and done, the strong, brown horse with a large, white spot between her eyes is ready for Stephanie to mount and ride.

Stephanie, who will be a sixth-grader at Hudson Middle School this fall, is used to dealing with tough situations. At the age of 7, she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes.

Now, Stephanie is fighting to find a cure for the disease, which affects more than 1 million Americans. Last year, she served as one of Ohio's ambassadors for Children's Congress 2003, urging lawmakers to push for a cure for juvenile diabetes. She also organized Team Stephanie for the 2003 Walk to Cure Diabetes, which raises funds for research each September.

And she didn't hesitate to ask her minister, the Rev. Ray Deuring, of the Richfield United Church of Christ, to raise money for her team this year while bicycling from California to Florida.

By early July, Deuring and his brother-in-law, David Reader, who are now pedaling through Texas, hope to raise $3,385 -- a dollar for each time Stephanie has taken an insulin shot since being diagnosed in 2000. So far, Deuring has raised $1,800.

At times, Stephanie feels it is hard for her to be a normal kid because people constantly worry about her.

``Just because you have diabetes doesn't mean you're a totally different person,'' Stephanie said. ``Most people are like, `Can you eat this? Can you not eat this? Do you feel low? Do you have to test? Do you need to go take a shot?'

``Adults are more worried than kids. Kids ask, but it's not that big of a deal.''

To avoid awkwardness, Stephanie gives a presentation to her classmates at the beginning of each school year to tell them about juvenile diabetes and its possible side effects.

One thing Stephanie missed out on in the past is sleepovers with friends. Her mother, Donna Treubig, had to give her insulin shots before she went to bed and again in the morning. But now that Stephanie has an insulin pump, a small device that monitors the insulin to her body and gives her the amount she needs, she only has to get a shot once every three days. That gives her more freedom.

``I worry a lot,'' Donna Treubig said. ``I can't sleep at night because I am just sure she's low. And then when she's on an overnight, of course, I worry about that. But for the most part, I worry about the future and the long-term effects.''

Juvenile diabetes, which causes the pancreas to produce little to no insulin, which the body needs, can lead to several serious health problems, including kidney failure, blindness and stroke.

``It's really an hour-to-hour, day-to-day, life-and-death decision,'' Treubig said. ``You have to decide how much insulin she needs versus how much food she's going to eat and how much exercise she's had.

``It's like juggling three balls, and you never know which one is heavier. It's a constant struggle.''

But Stephanie has a growing support system.

Before leaving for California, Deuring, an avid cyclist, sent a letter to everyone on his mailing list, explaining his trip and asking for donations for Stephanie.

He and Reader started cycling in early May and plan to wrap up their trip in July, so Deuring can be back in time to officiate a wedding.

Triple-digit heat and eight flat tires for Reader have not been enough to stop the duo. Instead, Deuring said the most trying time of their trip came from rattlesnakes.

``I'm an Ohio boy,'' he said, ``and I haven't gotten used to seeing rattlesnakes on the side of the road yet.''

Deuring's ride is being chronicled on Stephanie's Web site -- The site is also where Stephanie describes her experiences with diabetes.

According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 35 children in the United States are diagnosed with the disease each day.

Stephanie looks forward to the day when she will no longer be a statistic.

``We're hoping they find a cure tomorrow,'' Stephanie said. ``The day I'm cured, I am going to throw away all my diabetes supplies and eat a whole pumpkin pie by myself.''

Amber Ellis can be reached at 330-996-3261 or