Ethan Ziegler carries more responsibility on his shoulders than most other children his age, and he’s easily meeting some pretty big goals.“I’ve learned on my own that if I don’t give life my best, life won’t give me its best,” said Ethan, 12.Ethan was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes – formerly called juvenile diabetes – at age 3. When he entered kindergarten, his parents made the decision to outfit him with an insulin pump, which looks like a pager that hooks to his belt. At the push of a few buttons, insulin is delivered into his system.It’s a lot easier than carrying all of the supplies around. When he was younger, the pump was locked and others administered it for him. “Sometimes I think he gets tired of explaining what it is to other kids, but he’s good natured and matter-of-fact about it,” said Tina Ziegler, his mother and a teacher at Butler High School. Ethan’s passion is taekwondo, and he achieved his first-degree black belt in December 2011. He’s now halfway to achieving his second-degree black belt, and he is practicing three nights a week and Saturdays.“The hardest part is the cardio work, which is 100 pushups, 100 situps, 200 kicks and 100 jumping jacks,” Ethan said. “It is harder to go to practice now that I am older and have more homework. But I love being with my all of my friends, so I can help them.”As part of his second-degree training, Ethan gets to teach his friends and help the instructor. Achieving his first-degree black belt meant he had to break three different boards with three different kinds of kicks. “This is a difficult skill, because it takes more control to break a board with your foot than with your hands,” he said. His parents have always encouraged him to do what he wants, yet manage his diabetes responsibly. Ethan doesn’t get sick very often and has perfect attendance.The secret is to lead a healthy lifestyle; his parents make sure he gets a good night’s sleep and has a balanced diet. He can eat junk food but only in moderation. “Just let them live life the way they want to. You can always make it work.“Diabetes is something you can absolutely manage,” Tina said. Now that he is in middle school, Ethan has taken on more responsibility for his condition, monitoring his blood-sugar level and the insulin pump with no worries.He also received straight A’s last quarter and still made time to volunteer at Matthews Methodist Church. “As parents, we can push him down the creek, but he chooses to paddle with direction and purpose,” said Ethan’s father, John. “We’re happy that he can inspire anyone. Diabetes may be a slight inconvenience, but it doesn’t have to hold anyone back.”
Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012
Juvenile diabetes doesn’t slow down this 7th-grader
‘A’ student working on his 2nd-degree black belt
Ethan Ziegler works out at Martial Arts Carolinas. Ethan was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes - formerly called juvenile diabetes - at age 3. COURTESY OF TINA AND JOHN ZIEGLER
Emily Mathias is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Emily? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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