Our network

Suzanne Coney accepts certificate of appreciation from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation | Community Spirit

Title (Max 100 Characters)

Suzanne Coney accepts certificate of appreciation from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
Suzanne Coney accepts certificate of appreciation from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

News Release:

Waukazoo Elementary secretary Suzanne Coney and teacher Lynne Gallagher couldn’t help but tear up when Cathy Courey explained to Gallagher’s third-grade class on Wednesday that there is no cure for diabetes.

Coney and Gallagher have both been touched by the disease – Gallagher has a daughter with Type 1 diabetes and Coney helps two students in Gallagher’s class deal with the disease every single day.

Courey, executive director of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Great Lakes West Chapter, wasn’t telling either woman anything they didn’t know. Still, it was a sobering thought: Gallagher’s daughter and students Gavin Keifer and Olivia Byers-Johnson would have the disease for the rest of their lives unless a cure was found.

“I’ve become very close with these kids, because I’ve been taking care of them since they were in kindergarten,” explained Coney, who makes sure Gavin and Olivia get their insulin and eat properly while at school. “It’s very hard to know they’re going to have this disease for the rest of their lives.”

Courey was at Waukazoo to note the school’s special ties to juvenile diabetes. She accepted a check for $536 which Gallagher’s third-grade class raised through its Market Days and to present Coney with a special certificate noting her contribution to helping those with the disease.

Many schools, Courey noted, refuse to give diabetic students their insulin shots because they have no one on staff trained to do so. Coney made sure she had the proper training and retraining so no diabetic student at Waukazoo would go without the attention they needed.

But that’s not all she does. She makes sure they check their blood sugar levels at regular intervals, educates them on the need to eat properly and exercise, and makes sure what they’re eating at school is appropriate.

“Just the security of a parent knowing they can take their child to school here and not have to worry about them is huge,” said Courey, who has two children with diabetes.

Coney says it wasn’t easy giving that first insulin shot, even with the training.

“I didn’t know if I could do it, but when you realize you have to for their health, it becomes easy,” said Coney, who has become good friends with Olivia’s mother, Brenda Byers-Johnson.

Olivia and Gavin now have insulin pumps, doing away with the need for shots, but the diligence in making sure they eat the right foods and exercise is still there. And whenever they feel lightheaded, they are to have a classmate bring them to see Coney, who knows how make sure their blood sugar returns to normal.

Several teachers and staff at Waukazoo have immediate family members with diabetes, creating a special bond between the school and research to find a cure. Gallagher has participated in JDRF’s 100-mile bike ride fundraiser for the past several years, helping to raise thousands of dollars.

Gallagher and a small group of students will also be holding a fundraiser called “Caps for a Cure,” with all profits going to JDRF. And Olivia Byers Johnson has organized “Olivia’s Olympians,” a walk team that is going on its fourth year of raising money for juvenile diabetes by participating in JDRF’s “Walk for a Cure,” while her “Girls on the Run” team will be having a bake sale with profits going to JDRF.

Holland - Zeeland Deals