When Ezra Keough ’17 (Basking Ridge, N.J.) was diagnosed with Type 1 (juvenile) diabetes in fifth grade, he didn’t know much about the disease, but he knew one thing—it wasn’t going to stop him from accomplishing his goals.
A competitive swimmer at the time of his diagnosis—rapid weight loss and exhaustion caused him to see his doctor—Keough went on to play junior varsity and varsity football in high school. A center and long snapper, he represented Ridge High School in the Basilone Bowl, which invites about 85 students from Somerset County (N.J.) and the surrounding areas based on on- and off-field achievement.
In 2011, Keough founded an organization called Tackle Juvenile Diabetes to encourage children and young people with Type 1 diabetes to lead healthy, active lives while managing their diabetes. This winter, he was a panel speaker at a conference held at Morristown Medical Center’s Goryeb Children’s Hospital, where he and other college students shared their experiences transitioning to college while managing diabetes. Later this year, he will speak at Healthy Kids Day, sponsored by the Somerset YMCA in Basking Ridge, and Camp Nejeda, a summer camp for children with Type 1 diabetes in Stillwater, N.J.
One of the major goals of Tackle Juvenile Diabetes is to help parents and their children understand that Type 1 diabetes is a challenge, not an obstacle. In fact, Keough believes that his Type 1 diabetes has actually helped him be healthier by making him more aware of the physiological workings of the body.
“Children need to know that this diagnosis will not limit their goals and dreams,” he says. “My hope through Tackle Juvenile Diabetes is that if they see someone in a similar situation living with Type 1 diabetes [who is] living life to the fullest and challenging themselves through rigorous activity, then they will feel more confident and comfortable to do something they want to do —not place limits on themselves, but follow their dreams.”
Making a successful transition to college life with Type 1 diabetes is all about preparation and responsibility, says Keough, a civil engineering major. He diligently monitors his glucose levels and has created his own fitness plan at Kirby Sports Center.
“I have met some wonderful people here at Lafayette,” he says. “My roommate and friends have been extremely supportive and curious about diabetes.”