When Kaeclin Shepard was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes eight years ago, her life changed forever.

Type 1 diabetes is treatable through insulin therapy, which requires Kaeclin to inject insulin to balance factors like food, exercise, stress and emotions. But too much insulin can cause the body to burn too much glucose and and blood sugar can drop to a dangerously low level.

Kaeclin’s family has spent sleepless nights closely monitoring Kaeclin’s blood sugar, and rushed her to the hospital countless times.

Life with Type 1 diabetes is hard, Kaeclin says. But a few years ago, she found a support network through a summer camp for other kids with the disease.

Each summer, Kaeclin looks forward to attending camp where she can hang out with other kids that face the same struggles in managing their diabetes. Kaeclin has met lifelong friends through the camp, whom she talks with regularly via group chats.

Kaeclin was counting down the days until she could head to this year’s camp — and then the pandemic happened. Camp was canceled.

COVID-19 and quarantines have caused everyone to feel isolated, but it has been especially difficult for teens like Kaeclin who rely on peer support to manage their disease.

So, Kaeclin turned her sadness and frustration into something positive: She created her own diabetes camp for three younger children with Type 1 diabetes.

Kaeclin ordered logo shirts and backpacks, bought sunscreen, bug spray, water bottles, prepared lunches, snacks, toys, games and crafts. With help from one of her own “diabuddies” she had met through camp, Kaeclin helped the three campers learn how to better manage Type 1 diabetes.

“These three girls had never met before, I hope they become diabuddies because it’s important for them to not feel alone,” Kaeclin said.

Kaeclin’s mom, Kari Shepard, said she is proud of her daughter for overcoming her struggles and making a difference for other youth with Type 1 diabetes.

“She is such a great role model and leader for the diabetic community,” Kari said. “Her struggles only make her stronger.”

People with diabetes are required to make an estimated additional 180 decisions every day of their lives — from what to eat to how much insulin to inject. On top of all those decisions, we’re so glad Kaeclin is making positive choices that help her community.

Thanks for being a Postively Elkhart County Do-Gooder, Kaeclin!