South Point boy walking to fight juvenile diabetes

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 29, 2007

He plays like every boy his age — he’s active, energetic and tall for his age.

But, he is a little different from his playmates. He has juvenile diabetes.

When Caleb Eplion, 8, of South Point, found out he had juvenile diabetes, he was just having a routine checkup and showed no symptoms.

Email newsletter signup

He was only in the hospital a couple of days and he has learned to take care of himself.

Caleb wears an insulin pump and pricks his finger five to seven times a day — and puts it into a meter that has an electronic device that will show his blood sugar level.

He has to count all the carbohydrates he eats and for every 15 carbohydrates he eats, he has to take one unit of insulin.

“It has this reservoir that has the insulin in it and he has a plastic needle inside like a catheter,” said his mother, Amanda Fitzpatrick. “It will put insulin into his body.”

It’s a lot for a second grader to keep track of — but he does it, his mother said.

“He learned so much about it really quick,” she said. “He’s a very smart kid — smart when it comes to diabetes and smart when it comes to school. First thing he does when he comes home is the homework.”

Even though he has to leave his classroom several times a day, he is still a straight-A student.

The first of this year, Caleb had a fundraiser for a “Walk to Cure Diabetes” in Charleston, W.Va., and raised $470. He came in first place in the three-mile walk.

Now, he is raising funds for another walk on Sept. 29 at King’s Island and his goal is $500.

“I want to give it to the people to help find a cure,” Caleb said.

Several businesses are donating money for the cure. He and his cousins also had a candy bar sale.

Eleven members of his family will join him in the walk wearing T-shirts they tie-dye that have “Caleb’s Crew” printed on the shirts.

“We tie-dye them ourselves,” Fitzpatrick said. “We have fun. We are learning more and more about diabetes and we’re trying to find a cure.”

Today, he and his cousins will be baking brownies and making no bake cookies for a bake sale on Saturday at Foodfair in South Point. The boys also plan to make lemonade for the day.

“They do it all,” his mother said.

One of the national drives is to try to get stem-cell research approved, she said.

According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International Web site, as many as 3 million Americans have type 1 diabetes, a disease most often diagnosed in childhood that strikes suddenly, lasts a lifetime, and carries the constant threat of deadly complications, including heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, and amputation. Through dramatic research progress, a cure is now within their reach, the Web site said.