Every year, the Council for Youths with Chronic Conditions presents awards to honor teens who advocate heavily on behalf of a Chronic Illness. This year two Souhegan students, Abby and Maddy Conway, have been chosen to receive awards for “Champion Children and Outstanding Adolescents”. On Friday, December eighth, the girls were presented the award by: Senator Jeff Woodburn, the chair for the Council of Youths with Chronic Conditions; Joelle Martin, a State Representative and the vice chair for Council of Youths with Chronic Conditions; and Paula Garvey, a member of the board for the Council of Youths with Chronic Condition as well as an educator at Souhegan High School.
Maddy and Abby are Juniors at Souhegan High School, but along with their schoolwork, sports, and social life, both girls also battle diabetes. Abby was diagnosed with diabetes when she was just four years old and her twin sister Maddy was diagnosed ten years later, at the age of 14. Diabetes is a disease that causes your body to produce an excess of sugar in your blood and the effects of this can be fatal. Abby described one of the biggest struggles she has faced with diabetes as being Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA), which occurs when your body doesn’t get the glucose it needs so it begins to burn fat for energy. This results in the production of chemicals called ketones which acidify the blood and this can lead to a diabetic coma or even death. Though the dangers that come with diabetes are still incredibly serious, Maddy says “With technology now you have a much easier time with diabetes than Abby had when she was growing up.”
Maddy and Abby are extremely involved in the diabetes community and volunteer often in their free time, which is a huge part of the reason why the girls received the award. Both of the girls volunteer in the pediatric unit of their hospital, Joslin Diabetes Center and say their favorite part of working there is helping with the Teddy Bear Clinic, which is (A program where) young kids bring their favorite stuffed animal into the hospital and learn about diabetes and overall health. In the winter Abby and Maddy help instruct ski lessons for diabetic children through a program called Riding on Insulin that helps kids with diabetes participate in extreme sports.
Maddy and Abby will be graduating from Souhegan High School next year and are looking forward to the future. They both really enjoy science and Maddy wants to go into a career in the marine biology field. Abby says they are incredibly thankful to have “understanding teachers, friends who want to learn and good school nurses”. Denise Raymond, the school nurse at Souhegan and the person who wrote their letters of recommendation to receive the award, says that “Abby and Maddy are an inspiration to so many people and have such an amazingly positive attitude.”. The community benefits so much from the exceptional work kids like Abby and Maddy do and we are so grateful that the Council for Youths With Chronic Conditions recognizes their contributions.