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In this tourney, diabetes is loser

March 26, 2006|By MARLO BARNHART

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.VA.

Fortified with an extra dose of pain medication, Jenna Hansroth took the floor Saturday at her own Dunkin' Diabetes basketball fundraiser, which the 13-year-old Berkeley Springs girl organized last year to fight the disease.

"There's no use complaining about it ... you just have to get out there and work on it," Jenna said as she played as hard as she could in the 3-on-3 basketball tournament at her Warm Springs Middle School gym.

Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in September 2004, Jenna said she has gotten used to testing her blood-sugar level six or seven times a day, taking pain medication four times a day and giving herself a dozen shots a day into her stomach.

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The pain medication is needed to ease the discomfort in her feet and legs because of the ailment.

Of almost 21 million people in the United States estimated to have diabetes, about 3 million have Type 1 diabetes, more commonly known as juvenile diabetes, according to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Last year, Jenna organized her first fundraiser for the foundation, which raised $1,000 to help find ways to treat diabetes and look for a cure.

"We have about 16 teams signed up, which is about the same as last year," said Lori Hansroth, Jenna's mother. The Hansroth family also includes Jenna's father, Christopher, and brother, Joe, 15.

The family's odyssey into the world of Type 1 diabetes began when Jenna had flulike symptoms and was complaining about always being thirsty nearly 18 months ago, Lori said.

"We took her to the doctor because we thought maybe she had strep throat," Lori said. The diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes was totally unexpected.

With no family history of Type 1 diabetes, Lori said the doctors believe it was triggered by an earlier episode of the flu, which damaged her pancreatic cells. When the flu symptoms reappeared in 2004, the Type 1 diabetes was diagnosed, Lori said.

Jenna got the idea for the fundraiser last spring as part of a 4-H project. This year, the tournament was open to male and female players from ages 8 to 21.

One of the participants was Jerry Barker, a 17-year-old student at Berkeley Springs High School.

"My team, Carolina Blue, came in second last year," Barker said. He was back this year with the same team name, but different players.

Familiar with Jenna through his stepsister, Barker said he never really thought much about diabetes until he learned of Jenna's diagnosis.

"I don't want to think about it, but this event makes you think about it," he said.

He also admitted he loves playing basketball for any reason.

Kyle Ayers is a freshman at West Virginia University. A lifelong resident of Berkeley Springs, Ayers, 19, has worked as a lifeguard for Jenna's father, who is superintendent at Berkeley Springs State Park.

"It's a miracle that she is playing today," he said as he watched from the sidelines. "I just love basketball and it is for a good cause."

In addition to raising funds, Jenna uses the tournament to educate people about juvenile diabetes. She also has given presentations on the disease to fellow students at Warm Springs Middle School.

Even though Jenna's team didn't win its game Saturday, she said the important thing is to get out there and participate.

"Even though we lost, we had fun," she said.

And hopefully, she added, this year's fundraiser will pump more money into research to find a cure.

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