Diabetes Forecast

Teen Creates a Group to Help Kids With Diabetes

Morgan Mullen was inspired by her mom to start Pump It Up

By Kelly Toves ,

Morgan and Judy Mullen (holding hands, front right) with members of Pump It Up.

Morgan Mullen was 13 when she scrounged up enough babysitting money for tickets to a Jonas Brothers concert. It was 2008, and she wanted her mother, Judy Mullen, to see Nick Jonas perform his new song about the highs and lows of having type 1 diabetes. She knew her mom, who also has type 1, could relate. They went to the show together and left feeling inspired by Nick's success.

Morgan told her mother that she felt sorry about how hard it must be for her to live with diabetes. Judy encouraged her daughter to do something about it. Within a week, Morgan and a few friends in West Chester, Pa., had created Pump It Up, an organization dedicated to promoting awareness of diabetes, raising money for ADA Diabetes Camps and research programs, and providing pumps to children who need them.

Giving Back
Here are a few ways teens can help to stop diabetes:
• Become an ADA Diabetes Camp counselor.
• Mentor a newly diagnosed child or teen.
• Talk to lawmakers on behalf of young people with diabetes.
• Tell your story on stopdiabetes.com.
• Participate in (or start) a fund-raiser to support research and education programs.
For more information about what you can do, call your local ADA office.

Now 16, Morgan has learned firsthand about the need to educate others about diabetes and dispel misconceptions. "A lot of people think that the only way to get diabetes is to be unhealthy," she says. But she knows all too well that you can lead a healthy lifestyle with diabetes and still encounter complications. In 2007, Judy Mullen was admitted to the hospital for a stomach virus and ended up spending five days in the intensive care unit. Her blood glucose shot above 700 mg/dl. A doctor told Morgan that her mother could die. "I felt like we were living in an episode of House, watching her being wheeled into [intensive care] and not knowing why. It was very scary," Morgan says. "I learned that my dad and I have to fight [against] my mom's disease when she can't."

Pump It Up raises funds by holding community events like Snack and Juice, a family-friendly evening of activities with a moon bounce, fortune telling, manicures, raffles, and snacks. Proceeds have benefited groups like the Change for the Children Foundation, a charity started by the Jonas Brothers to support youth and diabetes awareness programs. In 2009, Pump It Up gave more than $9,000 to ADA camps.

This year, Morgan, a high school junior who plays on the softball team, will have plenty to keep her busy: the fourth annual Snack and Juice, a dance party fund-raiser, and other events including a Pump It Up 5K race in West Chester. She has started speaking about diabetes to schoolchildren and would like to do the same someday on Capitol Hill.

Morgan's mother remains her biggest motivation. "My mom will have diabetes until there is a cure, so it will affect her daily," the teen says. Backing diabetes research and camps has become a mother-daughter endeavor. "I knew if [Morgan] had something positive to focus on, we could move on as a family," Judy Mullen says. She hopes other youth can learn from Morgan's efforts to help people with diabetes. As Morgan puts it, you're never too young to make a difference.



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