Lake Nona’s own Jackson Wyatt is a little different than other seven-year-olds – and it’s not because of the way he undoubtedly plans on being a quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Jackson is living with Type 1 diabetes, and the diagnosis almost killed him.
A candy-fueled Valentine’s Day Party that should’ve been a dream for Jackson quickly turned into a nightmare. When Jackson came home from school that day, he wasn’t himself. The energetic young boy his parents knew and loved was debilitatingly weak and tired.
“I couldn’t even walk up the stairs in my house,” said Jackson.
The Wyatts rushed their son to a doctor who, suspecting diabetes, sent them to a hospital for emergency testing. The results of those tests put Jackson in a fight for his life. With his glucose levels at a life-threateningly high level, doctors had to hospitalize Jackson for two days while they worked to bring his levels down.
It’s been approximately one year since that frightful day, and Jackson and his family have wasted no time adjusting to a new way of life. Within a month of his initial diagnosis, Jackson started administering his own insulin injections and following his continuous glucose monitor (CGM) that he fondly calls “Dex.” The Dexcom transmits Jackson’s glucose numbers to his parents’ smartphones in real time and sounds an alarm when numbers are out of range – no matter what time of day. Several times a night, the alarm sounds, and Jackson’s parents wake up to assess how to help his glucose levels stabilize.
“We learned from the very start that diabetes won’t limit or define you,” said Jackson’s father, Ryan.
While diabetes may be Jackson’s disease, it’s his entire family’s fight. Jackson’s older brother, Walker, 9, and sister, Olivia, 4, help their brother in any way that they can.
“They get me snacks, and my brother helps me with Dex,” said Jackson, who laughs when describing how his Dexcom records look as trivial as his little sister’s scribbles.
This year, Jackson was selected as the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) 2019 Youth Ambassador. The ADA’s mission is to prevent and cure diabetes and improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes, and it’s a mission that Jackson and his family share.
Together with his family, Jackson has committed to walking 10 miles at the ADA’s premier fundraising event, the Tour de Cure at Lake Nona, and is helping raise awareness and funds for the event through his participation in the ADA’s newly-launched advertising campaign called “I Ride For.” The powerful series of video and print ads shares the stories of Central Floridians from all walks of life and ages who are affected by diabetes and why they are participating in the Tour de Cure at Lake Nona.
Hosted on March 31, the event offers participants the chance to ride, run or walk to find a cure for diabetes and includes bicycle route options from 10 to 101 miles. Its family-friendly 5k walk/run also includes activity stations along the way from Crayola Experience to keep even the youngest minds engaged and educated about the ADA’s cause.
Last year, the local event raised more than $928,000, and the goal for this year is even higher: $1 million. All participants can either join or create their own team to help raise money for the event. The Wyatt family has appropriately named their team “Team Jackson” and would love any support that could help them reach their personal $10,000 fundraising goal.
You can learn more about the ADA’s Tour de Cure or donate by visiting www.diabetes.org/lakenona.
Sunday, March 31, 2019
Lake Nona Town Center
Long-Distance Riding – 50MI / 63MI / 101MI
Check-in: 6:30 a.m. | Start Time: 7:30 a.m.
Short-Distance Riding – 10MI / 25MI
Check-in: 8:30 a.m. | Start Time: 9:30 a.m.
Check-in: 9:00 a.m. | Start Time: 10:00 a.m.