Since being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 7, Holden Cooper has raised awareness about the condition — talking with classmates, teachers, coaches and fellow 4-H members in Powell. But …
Since being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 7, Holden Cooper has raised awareness about the condition — talking with classmates, teachers, coaches and fellow 4-H members in Powell. But next month, he’ll share about his experiences on a whole new level as he travels to Washington, D.C. for the JDRF 2019 Children’s Congress.
Cooper was selected to represent Wyoming at the event on Capitol Hill, where he and other delegates will lobby their members of Congress to support type 1 diabetes research.
“I hope that eventually there’s a cure and more advanced technology,” said Cooper. “And that less kids have to deal with this.”
The 14-year-old has seen how much technology has changed since he was first diagnosed.
In those early years, he had to test his blood sugar eight or nine times throughout the day and needed insulin shots.
“I had to do that, and it was terrible,” Cooper said. “It worked, but not nearly as good as what I have now.”
Cooper has a pump that tells him what his blood sugar is at all times, and he no longer has to do shots.
“The advancement in seven years is just crazy,” Cooper said.
He also has a diabetic alert dog named Bayou, a 6-year-old British lab that’s trained to sense highs and lows in his blood sugar and then alert.
“She’s also trained to go and get him a juice if he has low blood sugar,” said Andrea Earhart, Cooper’s mom.
While living with type 1 diabetes has been difficult at times, the teen hasn’t let it hold him back.
“I want people to know that despite having type 1 diabetes, you can do anything you set your mind to,” he says in a video for the JDRF 2019 Children’s Congress.
Cooper plays soccer and basketball, is active in 4-H and enjoys hunting, fishing, camping and riding trail bikes.
As an avid Denver Broncos fan, “I bleed orange and blue, but that doesn’t affect my blood sugar testing,” he says in the video.
Cooper was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 7 after he was not feeling well, losing weight and had incredible thirst, said Earhart.
“It was a surprise,” she said. “It was not even on our radar.”
Oftentimes, the condition can be misdiagnosed. Cooper and his family are thankful they caught his type 1 diabetes before he was so sick he had to be hospitalized, like many kids are during the diagnosis process.
Earhart said they’re also thankful for “great school nurses, teachers and coaches” in Powell schools.
“They’ve been very supportive and helpful,” Earhart said.
During his time at Powell Middle School, Cooper knew a few other kids with type 1 diabetes. He’ll be a freshman at Powell High School this fall.
Cooper hopes to build more awareness for type 1 diabetes and the importance of continuing research. While in Washington, D.C. on July 8-10, he’ll meet with Wyoming’s Congressional delegation — U.S. Sens. Mike Enzi, John Barrasso and Rep. Liz Cheney.
“Cheney’s daughter has type 1 diabetes, so that will be a connection that she already has,” Earhart said.
Cooper also seeks to educate local residents about the disease. For instance, sometimes people confuse type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
“There’s misconceptions about, you know, ‘You ate too much sugar so you got diabetes,’” Earhart said. “Things like that are frustrating, but those are easy things to fix by just talking to people.”
During the JDRF 2019 Children’s Congress, Cooper will also get to hear from celebrities with type 1 diabetes and meet other youth from around the nation.
“It’s really important for these kids to see other kids who are thriving with this disease and sharing their stories,” Earhart said. “It’s built around that community with the primary goal of talking to legislators to try to continue that funding.”
Cooper said he’s looking forward to representing Wyoming in D.C.
He’s had to learn a lot about living with diabetes, but Cooper said he doesn’t let it define him.
“… Rather, I let it motivate me. I don’t feel limited by my diabetes,” Cooper said. “I think it has shaped me into the person I am today, and I have learned not to give up.”