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‘Angel’ in a Uniform

The Oscars may have come and gone with its star-studded red carpet and the coveted eight-and-a-half-pound golden man, but there’s one award still up for grabs that doesn’t come with a trophy or an acceptance speech. And a diabetes-devoted Ironton woman is one of five national finalists contending for that title: Diabetes Educator of the Year.

Janet Crockrel, LPN and Ironton City Schools nurse, was nominated for the contest in November 2008.

Lori Brownstead, the mother of Crockrel’s student, Beau, said she submitted a letter to the American Diabetes Wholesale to nominate Crockrel because of the role she has played in her son’s life for the past two years.

“Janet takes care of my little boy at West Ironton School,” Brownstead said. “As a mom, it’s hard when you have a child with needs to let him go without being there to take care of him. You’re putting that responsibility on someone else. It makes it easier knowing she is taking care of him.”

Brownstead’s 7-year-old son was diagnosed with Type I Juvenile Diabetes in 2006. As a result, Brownstead said, Beau must be given a shot every time he eats and must be checked continuously. And because she cannot be physically available at all times, Crockrel has stepped up to the plate to be Beau’s at-school caregiver.

Or as Beau calls her, his Angel.

But being available to administer necessary medication is not the sole reason Brownstead decided to nominate the nurse for the prestigious award. In her submission letter, she told the judges that Crockrel not only takes care of Beau’s needs, but she reiterates to him that he can pursue anything in life and is no different from any other child.

“It takes more qualifications than giving a child a shot and checking his blood sugar,” Brownstead said. “She is Beau’s friend, and that is what means the most.”

For the past nine years, making life a little bit easier for her elementary friends has been commonplace. She started at Ironton City Schools in 2000 working with diabetic children. Still working in the K-1 building, she has since expanded her involvement to general school-nurse duties while continuing to oversee the diabetic students.

Crockel has put to good use her certification in diabetes education when Beau and other students came to her office loaded with endless questions.

“Beau comes looking for me,” Crockrel said. “He wants to know more about his condition, and he is always full of questions.”

It has been beneficial to Beau, his mother said. It has been a learning experience for him to become more acquainted with his diagnosis.

For now, Beau and his mother are encouraging people to log on to the American Diabetes Wholesale Web site and vote for Crockel. The winner of the contest will receive a three-day, two-night stay at the Boca Raton Resort and Club in Boca Raton, Fla., and will be honored at a special ceremony. If Crockel does win the contest, she is allowed one guest to accompany her on the trip.

“I will take the person who nominated me,” Crockrel said. “Without her, none of this would even be possible.”

To vote for Crockel, log on to www.americandiabeteswholesale.com/contest.

Voting ends March 20 and is limited to one vote per computer.