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Sikeston teen organizing walk to help stop diabetes
SIKESTON, Mo. -- On the outside, Jordan Crawford is just like any other 14-year-old girl.
She goes to school and church, hangs out with friends and plays volleyball and basketball.
On the inside, however, Crawford has a daily fight with diabetes, and now the freshman at Sikeston High School wants to help increase awareness in the Sikeston area by coordinating the Community Walk to Stop Diabetes.
The walk is set for 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 15 at the Sikeston First Assembly Park on North Ingram Road. Crawford hopes people in the area take notice of the disease that affects nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States.
"I want people to be more aware of those with diabetes and what it actually takes to be a diabetic and what they have to go through," Crawford said. "Doing this walk is going to raise money for the American Diabetes Association so they can help increase awareness and hopefully they will be able to find a cure, too."
Diagnosed two years ago, just before entering the seventh grade, Crawford initially struggled with the disease as well as how to handle her friends, school and sports. But over time she learned how to manage.
"When you first find out, you watch everything you eat and make sure you are eating the right thing," Crawford said. "You are making sure nothing is going to happen to you. After a while it gets better and you are able to control it."
After gaining control of the disease, Crawford decided she wanted to help increase awareness and help raise money to fight the disease. So the teen came up with the idea of the Community Walk to Stop Diabetes and began putting it together.
"We are very proud of her," said her mother, Misti Crawford. "For her age -- to come up with this on her own and want to do this all herself -- we are very proud of the way she's handled it."
Crawford, along with her parents, put the walk together and found sponsors. Crawford's friends have put together a team and are planning a fundraiser at Pizza Inn while someone else is helping design T-shirts.
"I knew it was going to be a lot of work, so I was ready for all the work when it came," Crawford said. "The hardest part is just getting the word out and getting people to donate."
The First Assembly of God Church donated the use of their track. Local businesses have made donations as well. But there is still a need for donations, water and granola bars. There are also more teams wanted, much like are found at the Relay for Life, to help share in the walking.
From making phones calls, sending emails and walking the streets handing out fliers and talking to businesses, the Crawfords have found the disease is widespread.
"There are a lot more people that have it in this area than what you really think," Steve Crawford said. "At least that's what I found when I was walking around talking to people."
"I never realized how many young children there are that are diabetics in this town and the surrounding communities," Misti Crawford said. "I just hope they see her playing sports and doing this and know they can still play sports and still make a difference."
One such person is a 10-year-old friend of Jordan Crawford's who recently found out she has Type 1 diabetes. Now Crawford has a chance to help and to pass on what she has learned in her two years with the disease.
"It's good I can tell her that it is going to be OK," Jordan Crawford said. "It takes some getting used to, but you don't have to let it control your life. You just have to learn to manage it."
Meanwhile, Jordan Crawford is managing her disease, school, sports and coordinating the walk, and while it makes for a lot of work, she said she hopes it pays off in the end.
"I just want people to be more aware of diabetes in Sikeston and throughout the community," she said. "I just want people to know that diabetes is around here and to be able to say we were able to make a difference."