Three years ago, Kate Wyatt had a life-altering experience.

Three years ago, Kate Wyatt had a life-altering experience.

The 10-year-old was drinking lots of water, eating lots of food and rapidly losing weight; she was tired and often upset.

"I was just irritable," said the Karrer Middle School eighth-grader, who is now 13. "I got tired going up the stairs. I didn't complain. I just thought it was normal."

But after a "slow spiral," her mother Jenny Wyatt took her to the doctor. The next day she was told to take her daughter to the hospital; Kate was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, one in every 400 to 600 children has type 1 diabetes.

"I've never seen it in my family before," Jenny said. "When a person with diabetes has sugar it doesn't turn into energy, it just floats around in the blood."

An injection of insulin can help the body turn sugar into energy for those with type 1 diabetes and Kate said it helped her do just that.

"As soon as I got insulin I felt better," she said.

While the diagnosis brought relief, it also meant four shots of insulin a day, testing blood sugar and keeping a careful watch on diet.

At first it was a struggle, but after three years Kate said it's become a normal part of her day.

"I've gotten really good at counting (carbohydrates)," she said. "At first we had to measure everything. Now I can do it with guessing. At first it was really hard, but now I don't have to think much about it."

Technology also helped make Kate's daily struggle a little easier about six months into the diagnosis when she got a pump that attaches to her body and takes a lot of the guesswork out of insulin shots. She still has to test her blood sugar level, but after inputting the proper numbers into the pump, it distributes the correct amount of insulin.

"My doctor is really good about technology because she really wanted to get me on a pump," Kate said.

The pump has been helpful to keeping an eye on blood sugar and insulin, but Jenny said her daughter works hard to eat right and exercise so she feels good.

"It's important that people know it's manageable," Jenny said. "Like any body, it likes to be taken care of and the better she takes care of it, the better she feels. She has to be like a grown-up on a diet. The better she eats and exercises, the better she feels."

"I ran cross country this year for the first time," Kate added.

Kate also plays the piano, takes voice lessons and is involved in the local American Diabetes Association.

"I have talked for them before as a child ambassador," she said. "I spoke at the Franklin Park Conservatory last year."

The involvement has been mutually beneficial, though.

"She got to meet the Jonas Brothers," Jenny said.

"That was awesome," Kate said.

This weekend Kate will be one of many walkers participating in the American Diabetes Association fundraiser "Step Out: Walk to Fight Diabetes" at Polaris Fashion Place. The family-friendly walk is free, but all participants must raise at least $20.

"I definitely believe technology is on our side. It's a field where there's a lot on the horizon so we do get excited about raising money for the ADA," Jenny said.

Saturday's fundraiser will include a children's area, mascots and a health expo where people can get screenings and information on diabetes products and services. For more information, or to register for the fundraiser, look online at