Teen a powerful advocate for diabetes education

Author: Tammy L. Lane • First Posted: Tuesday, January 03, 2012

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Logan Gregory receives tremendous support from her mother, Deata, and the rest of her family.

Logan Gregory receives tremendous support from her mother, Deata, and the rest of her family.

Logan Gregory receives tremendous support from her mother, Deata, and the rest of her family.Logan, who was diagnosed at age 2, gives herself as many as a half-dozen shots of insulin every day. "I've never known life without diabetes," she says.One of Logan's favorite mementos is a gold coin she brought home from the American Association of Diabetes Educators’ conference in Las Vegas. It came from former acting U.S. Surgeon General Ken Moritsugu, chairman of the Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Institute, who commended her for making a difference. 
In a hallway at home, a display of plaques and photos commemorates Logan's lifetime of advocacy work. She begins the new year as the American Diabetes Association's 2012 national youth advocate.

In many ways, Logan Gregory leads a full life as a typical 17-year-old senior. She enjoys riding horses, modeling, and fixing hair and makeup backstage with the drama club at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School.

But Logan’s daily routine also includes giving herself as many as a half-dozen shots to control her insulin levels. Diagnosed at age 2 with Type I diabetes, she cannot remember a time when taking care of her body was not the center of her existence.

“Every morning I wake up I check my blood sugar, I check carbs, I exercise to stay healthy, I have to watch my diet. Overall, it’s really a lifestyle change,” she explained. “I’ve never known life without diabetes, so for me it’s something I’ve always done.”

She is not bitter, though.

“It’s difficult every now and then, but if I hadn’t had diabetes, I wouldn’t have been able to meet half the people or done half the things I’ve done,” she said.

Whether chatting up Miss America or lobbying Mitch McConnell, Logan is well-versed in her facts and passionate about her cause.   

“Right now, 22.7 million people in America have diabetes, and a lot of people don’t even know what it is,” she said, noting that this disease kills more people than AIDS and breast cancer combined. 

Deata Gregory learned a lot about diabetes after her daughter’s diagnosis; she knows the part of Logan’s pancreas that produces insulin is kaput. She described Logan as needing a new car battery, compared to someone with adult-onset diabetes who can make do with a jump-start.

“It’s a constant battle. Nothing is easy,” Gregory said, citing how stress, puberty and other factors can affect Logan’s condition.

After the middle of her three girls started grade school, Gregory soon realized that sharing Logan’s story could help others understand what was happening and what to expect. When classmates called her a teacher’s pet, “I told Logan ‘It’s time to educate your friends that this was not something you chose to have,’” Gregory recalled. “‘Even though this was a horrible thing that happened, we’re going to take it and make it something good.’”

In one effective move, the school sent home permission slips so other students could prick their fingers, too. Logan also created posters to explain diabetes in science class.

“When I was really little, I felt different. I had to have all this special attention,” said Logan, who attended James Lane Allen Elementary and Beaumont Middle School. “The best thing I could say is just ‘go with it.’ It doesn’t matter what people think or say – it’s what you have to do to survive. It’s something you have to push through.”

Logan, who fits in a part-time job among her speaking engagements and diabetes-related events, has steadily become more at ease talking in public.

“After a while, I realized I wasn’t the only one with this disease. It wasn’t just me,” she said. “The main message I’ve been after since I was diagnosed is finding a cure, and the only way to find a cure is to educate people.”

Logan has made an impact well beyond Lexington. Working as a page for Sen. Alice Forgy-Kerr and alongside lobbyist Bob Babbage, she was instrumental in the state Legislature’s passing Senate Bill 71, which requires specific training for health-care professionals to be certified as diabetes educators. She also spoke about the first-of-its-kind initiative at an American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) conference in Las Vegas.

Logan has received numerous recognitions for her efforts, including the 2011 National Youth Advocacy Award from the AADE and the 2011 Public Policy Award from the Diabetes Council. She also is one of 15 people who will be profiled in a book compiled by LifeScan, which makes blood-glucose testing equipment. Most recently, she was selected as the 2012 National Youth Advocate for the American Diabetes Association, which will mean traveling to Washington this spring and maintaining a blog and a website.

How does she react to all the attention now?

“It gets me pumped up. It lets people know what I’m doing. It tells me I’m doing a good job, and it makes me want to keep going and do more,” Logan said.

“I don’t want it to be about me,” she added. “It’s really not about me. It’s about everyone – so everyone with diabetes has a voice.”

By the numbers

About how many people are living with diabetes?

  • 22.7 million in the United States
  • 444,000 in Kentucky
  • 130 students in Fayette County Public Schools
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