PHOTOS BY Sara Parsons

How Paige Powered Up


Off the little island of San Juan in Washington, big things are happening in philanthropy — an entire community is contributing their resources and talents to help raise awareness and funds for Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease that currently has no cure.

It all started with an 11-year-old girl named Paige who has a friend named Henry. Henry has red hair, stylish glasses and always a new variety of wild leggings. He also has Type 1 diabetes. One day, while at his birthday party with a dozen other friends, Paige said, “I wish I could wear a pump like Henry to show people how cool he is!”

As Henry’s buddy would tell Beyond Type 1, a Type 1 diabetes nonprofit, if other people could understand what his pump does, maybe they could understand what diabetes is, too.

But it didn’t just stop with Paige wearing a demo insulin pump to support her friend with Type 1. ALL of their friends wore a demo insulin pump, and Henry’s sister, Rose, helped put them on all 20 of them.

“I just thought it was cool because lots of kids don’t have experience with diabetes,” said Paige. “Some people wanted to see what it was like to wear a pod and be like Henry.”

Paige said of the experience, “It felt weird at first, but then it felt normal — just like a sticker.”

“People asked, ‘Whats’ on your arm?’ and I said it was for diabetes, and some people stared and said, ‘Woah…’ Some other kids wanted to wear one too.”

Next, the parents of these 20 friends joined in. They collaborated on creating the ultimate trip to their beautiful little island, complete with airfare, a 2-night’s stay, boat trips, taxis and dinner for a lucky winner. Every $50 donation enters you in a raffle to win the trip to the San Juan Islands from Seattle.

On October 12, Henry, Rose and a few friends are also hosting a (sold out) dinner to help raise funds and meet their goal of $10,000 for Beyond Type 1. Mary and Brian of @fivemarysfarms have generously donated the beef for the dinner party.

The following of companies donated goods and services: San Juan Airlines, Earthbox Inn, Friday Harbor Taxi, Downriggers, The Salty Fox Coffee and Roche Harbor Resort McMillians Restaurant.

Beyond Type 1 has the largest digital following in the world of any diabetes organization and they raise money for education, advocacy and cure research for Type 1 diabetes. More, 100% of every single dollar donated to Beyond Type 1 goes to the incredible programs, grantees and the Type 1 diabetes community.

Henry’s mother, Sara Jensen, who is also the Creative Director of Beyond Type 1, said of the outpouring donations, “I feel really thankful. Maybe that wouldn’t happen in a larger city. These businesses are small mom and pop shops and they are all donating, because they love Henry, and it makes me feel like he’s safe. He can walk down the street and if his blood sugar is low, they would give him juice, because they understand what Type 1 is. I know he is safe and that establishes normalcy for him.”

Education and advocacy efforts were also brought to Friday Harbor Elementary School with the kids passing out “What is Type 1 Diabetes” fact cards. Every teacher in Henry’s school put a spare change jar in their classroom and encouraged kids to bring in whatever they could. The classroom that raises the most money wins a free pizza party. And to top it off, Lopez Island Creamery will surprise the entire school with an ice cream party for all of its awesome efforts.

If it takes a village to raise a child, then the islanders of San Juan are rising to the occasion, living up to what it means to be a good citizen, a helpful neighbor.

“I was hoping we could raise lots of money,” said Paige, “and that people would understand that this [diabetes] is not a joke and that it’s real.”

Read more about Beyond Type 1 and DONATE to their POWER UP Campaign! How will YOU POWER UP?

WRITTEN BY Michelle Boise, POSTED 10/10/18, UPDATED 10/10/18

Michelle is an award-winning writer, originally from Ohio. She has a BA in English literature and Spanish and a MFA in writing from the University of San Francisco. As a writer, editor and content guru, she’s worked on both literary magazines and e-commerce platforms. Before joining the Beyond Type 1 team, she developed health-conscious articles for Fitbit and implemented SEO strategy for e-commerce. When she’s not writing, you can find her painting with acrylics (they dry fast).