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Sharon Arundel, left,  and her 14-year-old daughter, Meaghan, take a walk in Sparkman Park in Hartselle with their dog Toby. Meaghan was diagnosed with diabetes at age 8, and will take part in Saturday's Morgan County Diabetic Walk.
Daily photo by Deangelo McDaniel
Sharon Arundel, left, and her 14-year-old daughter, Meaghan, take a walk in Sparkman Park in Hartselle with their dog Toby. Meaghan was diagnosed with diabetes at age 8, and will take part in Saturday's Morgan County Diabetic Walk.

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Hartselle teen knows diabetic life; to take part in walk to help others

By Deangelo McDaniel
dmcdaniel@decaturdaily.com 340-2469

HARTSELLE — Even as a doctor challenged her intuition, Sharon Arundel knew something was wrong with her daughter.

After a weeklong visit to Children's Hospital in Birmingham and almost a month later, the mother learned she was right.

Doctors confirmed that Meaghan Arundel, now 14 and a freshman at Hartselle High School, has Type 1 juvenile diabetes.

Type 1 is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas are gradually destroyed and eventually fail to produce insulin.

Diagnosed when she was 8, Meaghan has made it her life's mission to fight against and educate young people about the disease.

That's one of the reasons she will participate in the annual Morgan County Diabetic Walk in Hartselle on Saturday.

The event is at First United Methodist Church on Hickory Street and starts with registration at 11 a.m.

The event raised more than $7,500 last year and was the largest since it started in 2003.

Kathy White Goodwin of Hartselle Medical Center said they hope to beat this figure because more walkers outside of Hartselle are participating.

"This is becoming a county event," she said.

The Arundels reside in Hartselle, but will participate in the event for the first time.

In years past, Meaghan, with eight to 12 friends, participated in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation walk in Huntsville.

Pat and Sharon Arundel's discovery of their daughter's diabetes is unusual. Meaghan showed no symptoms until she was 8.

She had sudden weight loss, her eyesight changed, she was always thirsty and was making frequent trips to the bathroom.

"We couldn't ride to Decatur without her having to use the bathroom," her mother said.

A doctor didn't make the diagnoses, but her mother, who had worked as a medical assistant for a doctor, knew something was wrong.

She tested Meaghan for diabetes and doctors at Children's Hospital confirmed her fears.

8-10 shots a day

Meaghan tries to live as normal a life as possible. But, as most diabetic children do, she has to give herself eight to 10 insulin shots per day.

She can't go to parties or eat without being aware of how many carbohydrates are in the food.

Meaghan doesn't hide that she's diabetic. She's a member of the swim team and the insulin pump on her side is always visible.

"My friends ask questions, but they are not cruel," she said.

Meaghan's mother said it's important for people to know that insulin is not a cure for diabetes.

"We have our good days and our bad days. That's one of the reasons we're participating in this walk. It's not just for Meaghan. It's for all the children who suffer from diabetes."

Proceeds from Saturday's walk will benefit the American Diabetes Association.

Walking to fight diabetes

What: Morgan County Diabetic Walk.

When: Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: First United Methodist Church on Hickory Street.

Events: In addition to the walk, there will be gospel singing, silent auctions, line dancing, bake sale, pony and donkey rides and moon walks. A new fundraiser this year is the Alabama or Auburn walk. A $1 donation equals one mile.

Cost: You can walk for free. But, for a $30 donation, you will receive a T-shirt, meal ticket and goodie bag. There will be door prizes. The grand prizes are a 5x8 Lone Wolf Trainer and $100 Wal-Mart gift certificate. To pre-registered, call Kathy White Goodwin at 751-3000, ext. 100.

Deangelo McDaniel

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