The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


She lifts high the cross

With faith and family support, Christa doesn't let diabetes get her down

Every day Christa Simmons, 17, of Augsburg Lutheran Church, Winston-Salem, N.C., works to save her life.


Diagnosed with type I diabetes five years ago, Christa must give herself two insulin shots every day, monitor her blood sugar level and eat three carefully prescribed meals and three snacks on schedule ... or she could die.

"I couldn't believe it was true," Christa says of the day she received the news of her diabetes. "I was totally devastated."

But with the support of her family, friends and faith, Christa has learned to take her condition in stride.

"God was there. I don't think I could have gotten through any of this without him. He held me in his hands and walked with me. We've had a lot of prayer time," says this active youth leader, who continues to participate fully in school and church activities — even cheerleading and confirmation camps.

Despite a recent scare (when she forgot to eat a bedtime snack, her blood sugar plunged and paramedics were called to wake her up in the morning), Christa keeps her life so normal that most people don't know she has diabetes.

A varsity cheerleader and former track team member, Christa participates in such school groups as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, holds down a weekend retail job and volunteers to coach younger cheerleaders in a community recreation program.

Recently Christa's class awarded her the "best smile" superlative. She also won a Miss Davidson County title.

Christa, who wants to be an elementary school teacher, also reaches out to others with diabetes. In a new program at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center — dubbed RAD for Ready to Accept Diabetes — Christa is featured in a video and serves as a mentor/panelist to help newly diagnosed patients and their parents. She also raises money for research by participating in her area's Juvenile Diabetes Foundation walkathon.

Her advice to other kids with diabetes or chronic illness: "Don't let it get you down, keep your life going," she says. Good advice for us all.


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Embracing diversity