Maddie Elbracht has always been mature beyond her years.

She was 14 months old when Mike and Tracie Elbracht learned that their daughter had type 1 diabetes.

Life at the Elbracht house became filled with an infinitesimal number of insulin checks of Maddie’s blood sugar levels and around-the-clock worry. Mike and Tracie Elbracht hadn’t planned on caring for a young toddler whose pancreas didn’t produce insulin.

“With me being diagnosed at such a young age, my parents had to give me impossibly small amounts of insulin and worry about me 24/7,” recalled Maddie.

The family’s search for help and hope led them to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. JDRF turned the couple’s concerns into a we-can-do-this attitude. They learned about the proper care of a diabetic and how they could fight for a cure.

Independent

As Maddie grew, so did her level of independence.

“By the time I was in kindergarten I was testing my own bloodsugars, giving myself insulin through my pump, and counting my carbs,” she reflected.

A dozen years later, that’s still the case: Her level of independence continues to belie her age.

Preparing for her junior year of high school at Lincoln Southeast, Maddie hasn’t let her condition control her life … far from it.

She’s president of DECA, is active with the yearbook staff, participates on the varsity archery team, and plays defender for the Knights reserve soccer team.

To D.C. next week

Maddie knows the crucial role JDRF plays in helping patients in her condition. It’s important that the federal decision-makers who control the purse strings that pay for research are aware of JDRF’s role in helping folks like Maddie and her family.

To that end, the Lincoln teenager is excited to be one of 160 delegates selected to attend the JDRF Children’s Congress next week (July 24-26). The focus: raise more awareness of the disease and work harder for a cure.

Sawyer Hornung-Scherr of Hickman is also among the four Nebraskans selected to attend from among the thousands of diabetic children who applied.

Maddie’s itinerary in D.C. includes a scheduled meeting Tuesday with three members of Nebraska’s congressional delegation - Senators Ben Sasse and Deb Fischer, and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry.

Prevalence

The latest figures indicate 23.6 million U.S. children and adults – roughly 7.8 percent of the U.S. population – wrestle with diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association released new research in March 2013 estimating the total costs of diagnosed diabetes have risen to $245 billion in 2012 from $174 billion in 2007, when the cost was last examined.

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