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The North Bend Eagle


Checking blood sugar
Sivanna Witt checks her blood sugar level, a routine she must do eight to 10 times a day.

Camp helps fight against diabetes

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 7/21/10

Sivanna Witt has something no other student in North Bend Central school system has. Type 1 diabetes. Not that it has deterred her from being active in school. But it does make her feel different in school.

“At school everyone is very conscientious of my diabetes,” Witt, 14, said. “My friends say to me ‘are you sure you can eat that?’”

But Camp Floyd Rogers (CFR) was different. There Sivanna was just like everyone else. CFR is a camp just for diabetic children, ages 8-18. Everyone there, including the staff, has diabetes, works with diabetics or has a sibling with diabetes. At camp Sivanna is just like everyone else.

“The best part about it is feeling like you don’t have to monitor yourself,” she said. “I felt like a normal girl.”

For years before her diagnosis, the Witts were frustrated with Sivanna’s fluctuating attention span. One day she would excel in school, the next day she would get all zeros on her schoolwork. Finally, in December 2007, her doctors determined she had Type 1 diabetes. With proper treatment, life became much smoother for the Witts.

In June 2008 Sivanna attended CFR for the first time and loved it. With all the medical staffing, monitoring and equipment, it is a very expensive camp. Her parents told her it was a one time experience.

Connie Dostal heard her boss, Kiel Eltiste at Kiel’s Barbershop in downtown Fremont, talking about the Fremont Cosmopolitan Club’s support of diabetic research and children with diabetes. The club raises money for diabetic research and gives out scholarships to diabetic camps each summer. Dostal said she knew a young girl with diabetes in North Bend and Eltiste helped her get the paperwork to the Witts so they could apply for a camp scholarship. Sivanna applied for and received a scholarship from the club to attend CFR.

“I’m so appreciative of the scholarship,” Sivanna said. “I couldn’t have gone without it.”

June 19-26 found Sivanna at the Eastern Nebraska 4-H Center near Gretna with 99 other children with Type 1 diabetes.

“It was a freeing experience,” Witt said. “I loved it.”

Her mother, Jennifer Witt, said the campers come from all over; the next closest camp for diabetics is in Colorado. When the children arrive they check in their medicine packs as everything is supplied by the camp.

“They make corrections with the kids’ blood sugars.” Jennifer Witt said, “but they don’t brow-beat them. They pick up a lot from each other.”

There is a dietician on staff who cooks for the kids and shares the camp recipes.
A lot of the learning comes from the kids interacting with each other. They will share tips, ideas and help that have worked for them with the other campers.
Jennifer Witt said they talk about social things parents don’t think about, like how to tell a boyfriend you’re diabetic.

One thing Sivanna did get to experiment with at CFR was an insulin pump, finding out she is not ready for it.

Sivanna is a brittle diabetic, meaning her blood sugar is not totally under control even with a set regime. She checks her blood sugar eight to 10 times a day and gives herself five insulin shots daily. At NBC she goes to the nurse’s office to do this. Sivanna is in charge of her diabetes, with her parents monitoring.

“I told her when she was first diagnosed that diabetes was not going to control our lives,” Witt said. “She does whatever she wants, we work the diabetes treatment to fit her lifestyle.”

At NBC Sivanna will start her freshman year this fall. She plays volleyball, basketball, is on the dance team and involved in FFA. Outside of school she is involved with 4-H, barrel races and shows horses and attends dance class.

Camp Floyd Rogers was a very freeing experience for Sivanna. Free to be Sivanna the girl. Not Sivanna the diabetic.

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