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New Ulm Diabetes Walk being held Saturday

Whitney LeGare

NEW ULM — The Fifth Annual New Ulm Diabetes Walk will take place at the New Ulm Civic Center, 1212 North Franklin St. on Saturday, Sept. 28.

This is a Strides, Lions for Diabetes Awareness Event and is a collaboration of the Lions Club of New Ulm and the Lafayette Area Lions Club. The walk will be 1 or 2 miles long around the outside of the Brown County Fair Grounds on the sidewalks. Registration starts at 8 a.m. The Walk takes place from 8:30-10 a.m.

The walk this year is dedicated to 24-year-old Whitney LeGare, a Lafayette native, who lost her life this year due to complications of diabetes. Individual freewill donations will be accepted or you are encouraged to form a team.

This is a Fund Raiser for the Minnesota Lions Diabetes Foundation, which is working with the University of Minnesota to find a cure for diabetes.

Also, new this year, will be a drawing for a Camp Sweet Life Diabetic Camp scholarship. This is a summer camp for type 1 diabetic children. T-Shirts will be given to the first 100 walkers. Snack bars, Fruit, Coffee and Water will be provided. You can donate at the event or at www.nudbwalk.com. You can also donate by sending a check made out to the “Minnesota Lions Diabetes Foundation” to Lion Bob Schirlinger, 801 N Payne St., New Ulm, MN 56073.

Whitney’s Story

Whitney LeGare was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in September of 2009 at the age of 15. She lived as a diabetic for almost 10 years.

During those 10 years, she managed her diabetes by monitoring her glucose levels. This was done several times a day depending on how frequently she had snacks or meals. Whitney would count the carbohydrates that she would be having for snacks or meals, then would inject enough insulin based on the number of carbs that she had ingested. She also had to cover herself prior to or after any type of physical exercises or any athletic games, and even on sick days. With Type 1 you are your own pancreas. Your body is unable to do it for you. You are now responsible for your life. Imagine being 15 and trying to manage all of this new medical information. Not to mention, she wasn’t like all of her friends anymore.

Whitney she never once complained about it, however. She had a positive, carefree and dreamer spirit. She never let being a diabetic hold her back from living her life. She followed her dreams wherever they took her.

One of those dreams was attending the University of Minnesota – Duluth after graduation from high school where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. Whitney participated and raised money in school events such as their annual walk for diabetes. Whitney’s passion, though, was for children and helping youth. After graduating college, Whitney’s carefree spirit brought her to make the decision to move to Florida where she dedicated her work to educating youth about the dangers of alcohol and drug consumption. Whitney was hired as a prevention specialist at D.A.C.C.O. Whitney educated young adults on the importance of drug and alcohol prevention. During the summer months, through her work with D.A.C.C.O. she helped create a safe place for children in unstable environments to turn by participating in summer camp counseling. She made an impact in their lives and helped them learn that they can be more than their environment. She helped children realize that, just like her, they are not defined by their circumstances. They can be and do what they dream.

On Monday, March 25th, 2019, Whitney went home early from work and laid down as she wasn’t feeling well. While she knew she was sick, she just figured it was another ‘sick day’ and that with a little rest and relaxation she would be better in a few days. It was much more than that. On March 27th, 36 hours after returning home from work, Whitney was found unresponsive in her home. Her pulse was 18, and she would later go into cardiac arrest in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. The doctors believe that she had become disoriented due to a yeast infection in her blood that was believed to be contracted from something as small as a paper cut on her foot. (The origin of the source was never officially found.) With Type 1 diabetes, infections can make your glucose levels sky rocket. This was the case for Whitney when she was found. Due to the infection and inability to inject herself with insulin, her blood sugar was over 1200, and she was in Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA). Whitney was placed on a ventilator, and put into a medically induced coma, so that her body was able to heal. Her kidneys had shut down, she spent over 5 days on the ventilator, and over 40 days in and out of ICU to try and regulate her blood glucose levels. Her entire body was incredibly fragile at this time. Experiencing almost every set-back there could have been, including, pneumonia, blood transfusions, dialysis and when the DKA resolved, going back into DKA.

Whitney was eventually stabilized. However, she ended up having yet another setback. She now would need bronchoscopies to try and reduce the amount of scar tissue (70% blockage) that was thought to be causing some respiratory issues that she had been experiencing. While these procedures worked the first two times, they eventually stopped working and it became an emergent need to place a trach. On May 26th, just a day before her 25th Birthday, Whitney went into emergency surgery. Whitney ended up going into cardiac arrest as a result from the anesthesia and died while in surgery.

Despite the outcome, our family will forever be grateful to the ICU treatment teams at Tampa General Hospital for saving Whitney. We were able to spend an extra 60 days with her. Something we probably shouldn’t even have had to begin with. Every doctor she encountered (and there were many) told her, she was a medical miracle, and she was.

It has now been close to four months since our Whitney has left this earth, it hasn’t been easy but we are figuring out how to move on without her, with the help of many of her friends, our friends, family and the support of the community. 

Our team is joining the Lafayette and New Ulm Lions Clubs at their annual New Ulm Diabetes Walk on Sept. 28th at the New Ulm Civic Center to continue the fight to end type 1 diabetes (T1D).

With T1D there are no days off and, as of right now, there is no cure. But there is hope. Please join us and help make a cure a reality? Your fundraising or donation not only changes lives for people with T1D but will change your own life too. The inspiration and fun you experience on walk day will stick with you, and the pride you can take for your role will last a lifetime.

Thank you for your support.

The Whitney LeGare

Family

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