Alexis Roberts was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 11 years old.
Roberts’ mother, Caroline Ross, rushed her daughter to Carroll Hospital after she dropped 20 pounds in a week. The doctors diagnosed her almost immediately when they found that her blood sugar level was over 1,200 milligrams per deciliter. She was then transported to Sinai Hospital in Baltimore where she spent another week in the pediatric intensive care unit to learn about the disease and how to manage it.
“Now I can see all the symptoms that were leading up to her becoming so sick,” Ross said. “She was eating an awful lot but just losing weight at a rapid pace and going to the bathroom all the time … when we took her to the hospital, she kept asking for popsicles, everything fruity.”
Roberts, a 2014 Westminster High School graduate, wanted to use her experience with diabetes as a way to connect with other children living with a chronic illness. She founded Live, Hope, Laugh, the Alexis Ross Organization, with her mother in October 2010. The organization is hosting an Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday.
Diabetes is a condition that impairs the body’s ability to process blood glucose, or blood sugar, according to the Medical News Today website. Not all forms of diabetes stem from a person being overweight or leading an inactive lifestyle, and some forms are developed during childhood.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body fails to produce insulin, according to the website. People with type 1 diabetes are insulin-dependent, which means they much take artificial insulin daily to stay active.
Normal blood sugar levels range from 70 and 99 mg/dL, according to the Medical News Today website. Roberts gives herself four injections of insulin a day and uses a Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitoring device to check her blood sugar numerous times throughout the day as well.
“There’s a lot of different things that we try to do for the families,” Ross said. “We gave out food during COVID and try to make things fun for the kids when we get together. They all know each other now, it’s been so many years and we’ve watched them grow.”
Live, Hope, Laugh hosts programs and community events such as a Back-to-School event by giving children supplies they need to prepare for the upcoming school year. During the Christmas season, the organization partners with the Elks Lodge of Carroll County in Westminster for a Night of Giving as well.
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The organization provided scholarships to high school seniors who planned to pursue careers in the pediatric field in previous years, but Ross said fundraising efforts were cancelled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and she was unable to give them out this year.
Ross said Roberts, who is married with a child and another on the way, took a step back from the organization during the pandemic to focus on her family, health, and safety.
Roberts and her husband Dennis are hosting an outdoor Easter egg hunt and luncheon for the organization’s children at her home on Saturday.
“We can’t wait to see them all together again,” Ross said. “We’re only going to have it for a two-hour time frame and we’re going to hide the eggs at a church across the street.”
Roberts is the only person in her family who has diabetes and she maintains a steady diet while continuing to monitor her blood sugar levels. Ross said her daughter is taking classes at Carroll Community College and plans to transfer to Towson University to become a high school teacher in the near future.
“We really hope to see [the organization] grow,” Ross said. “It’s small, it’s very personable and we know the kids and parents very well. It’s a small hometown organization and I’m not trying to have a multi-million dollar organization but we want to continue to help as many families that God will allow.”