In kindergarten, Lauren Buchanan slumped at her desk, too tired to play with blocks or even color a picture.
At home, she couldn't get enough to drink, constantly asking for water.
On a hunch, her mother, Angie, used her own glucose meter to prick Lauren's finger. The number flashed 500, nearly five times normal.
Doctors later confirmed her fear: Lauren had developed juvenile diabetes, becoming one of the 40 kids diagnosed nationally each day with the disease. She said she cried after hearing the news.
"We were really devastated," Angie said.
Angie, who herself had been diagnosed with diabetes three years earlier, said she felt helpless to prevent what she knew lay ahead for Lauren. Her daughter would have to endure countless needle pricks and a regimented diet for the rest of her life.
"There's nothing you can do when you get the diagnosis," Angie said. Juvenile diabetes is incurable.
But that was nine years ago. Angie and Lauren know now that there is plenty they can do.
The two have created Lauren's Gallopers for a Cure, a team dedicated to raising money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Named after her favorite hobby, horseback riding, the team participates in local Walk to Cure Diabetes events sponsored by JDRF, which works to improve the lives of those with the disease and to find a cure.
Last year, Lauren's Gallopers gave $7,500. This year they hope to donate another $8,000 to the foundation. So far, they are $1,200 toward that goal.
The next Walk to Cure Diabetes will be Saturday at Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium in Kannapolis.
As a child growing up with diabetes, Lauren didn't understand why the normal rituals of a birthday party brought her pain. "She'd cry because she didn't want a shot but she wanted cake and ice cream," Angie said.
As a teen, she hasn't found it any easier. Now 13 and an eighth grader at C.C. Griffin Middle School, Angie knows her daughter wishes she could wear the popular skinny jeans without her insulin pump - which helps to keep her blood sugar in check - strapped to her side.
She suspects that, sometimes, Lauren wishes no one knew she had diabetes. Then the athletic teen wouldn't be treated so delicately in gym class and on softball teams.
When her blood sugar is low, Lauren has trouble holding a pencil.
"My hands start to shake," she said. "I start to feel weak and sleepy."
Ninety percent of people who have diabetes have no family history of the disease.
Years ago, the average life expectancy of an adult diagnosed with diabetes as a child was 45.
Today the odds are better. But just being diagnosed takes 10 years off you life, Angie said.
Advancements made through research, such as the insulin pumps both use, have helped better control the disease.
"It's a way to live, but it's not going to prevent complications," Angie said. Diabetics face risks of blindness, amputations, kidney failure and heart disease.
The only way to prevent the complications is to eradicate the disease, she said.