GROSSE POINTE PARK, Mich. - Norah Brumbaugh, of Grosse Pointe Park, was just 7-years-old when she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
It was New Year's Eve of 2017. Her parents had become concerned after noticing certain symptoms.
"She was really, really thirsty all the time. She was losing weight, and she was eating so much. She was really, really hungry, so it didn't make sense why she was losing weight," said Monica Brumbaugh, Norah's mother.
According to the CDC, an estimated 1.25 million Americans are living with the challenges of type 1 diabetes. Each year, 40-thousand more people join those ranks, including many young children.
In the hospital, Norah began to draw.
"She has her favorite stuffed dog who she's named Woofy," said Monica Brumbaugh. "She started drawing a story about Woofy and about his experience getting diabetes just like her."
The story follows Woofy as he goes to see Dr. Ice Cube, who happens to be a doctor and a penguin. Woofy has to get a "paw test" and hugs his teddy bear when he's scared. After he finds out he has diabetes, Woofy learns how to get shots of insulin and gets a present from his cousin Bow Bow.
"I think that was really helpful for her to communicate what she was going through and how that experience was for her, using her love of art," said Monica Brumbaugh.
Norah's parents helped her publish her book titled "Woofy Has Diabetes."
"We wanted to do it for her, but we also saw an opportunity to sell those books, number one to help other families who are dealing with type 1 diabetes, but then also to raise money for JDRF and other type 1 diabetes research," said Tim Brumbaugh, Norah's father.
Douglas Toys, the manufacturer of Norah's favorite stuffed dog, donated several "Woofys" for the family to sell as well.
In addition to funding critical research into type 1 diabetes, JDRF also provides emotional support and other services to families dealing with the challenges of the disease.
"When we were in the hospital, we were just receiving so much information, so much education and so much training all at once, that it was so amazing to have a point of contact to support our family," said Monica Brumbaugh. "Right away it was this wonderful organization that we could reach out to and we knew that they would be able to answer our questions, and we knew that we weren't alone."
JDRF also sent a nurse to Norah's school to help do training.
"Norah is now a youth ambassador for JDRF which has been so empowering for her to be able to now become a leader and share her story," said Monica Brumbaugh.
Norah's parents have been inspired by her bravery and desire to help others. She and other students at her school have even started a special club.
"It's a diabetes awareness club," explained Norah. "So once a month, we meet for recess and lunch, and we tell them what diabetes is. And this year, we did a presentation to the school."
"She's remarkable," said Tim Brumbaugh. "I mean she surprises us every day, with or without diabetes."
Last New Year's Eve, the Brumbaughs marked Norah's first "Dia-versary" with a party.
"She's been doing this for a whole year, and we've made it," said Monica Brumbaugh. "So we chose to celebrate it and celebrate all of the things that she was able to do in that year."
Norah has already written a second book about Woofy. She's just waiting on her publisher, a.k.a. her mother, to get it into print. She's also working on a "Woofy Has Diabetes" coloring book.
To buy a copy of "Woofy Has Diabetes," click here.
To learn more about the JDRF, click here.
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