The lives of the Waukee Police Department’s evidence technician, Kari Olsen and her family were changed on Oct. 15 when Olsen’s 2-year-old son, Landon, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Olsen’s co-workers, the police officers and fire fighters at the Waukee Police and Fire Departments quickly got to work to rally around her and show their support.
The police officers and fire fighters grew out their beards throughout the month of November and through donations from Police and Fire Department employees, were able to hand over a check for $470 to the American Diabetes Association on Monday.
“I think it just echoes to what we have here at the PD (Police Department), that we are truly one big family and they do care about who I am and my family outside of work,” Olsen said. “So I was very touched that they thought so highly of me and my family that they would want to raise money for a disease my son has.”
Facial hair at the Waukee Public Safety Building has been a change of scenery as the Departments usually have a no-facial-hair policy. Officer Rod Schettler said that he’s been trying to convince Police Chief John Quinn to participate in a charitable no-shave cause for a few years, and with the recent news about Olsen’s son, this was the year Quinn finally gave Schettler the green light.
As a part of the no-shave initiative, Schettler said that the participating officers would donate $20 each, or however much they wanted to donate beyond that, to be donated to the American Diabetes Association.
“It’s nice to see the officers donate, especially when it’s helping out one of our own,” Schettler said.
Schettler said that his father had diabetes and that he already knows a little bit about the disease. Schettler said that hearing about a 2-year-old being diagnosed with diabetes made the department want to help out.
“She’s (Olsen) a part of the team, a part of the family, so we wanted to help support her in any way we could,” Schettler said.
He said he hopes they can continue with the program again next year and choose another charity to donate to.
Type 1 Diabetes is an “autoimmune disease in which insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas are mistakenly destroyed by the body’s immune system,” according to www.jdrf.org. Its causes are “not fully known” and there is currently no cure.
Those who have Type 1 Diabetes are dependent on injected or pumped insulin to survive.
Olsen said that her family was “devastated” upon hearing the diagnosis in November. Olsen’s family has had to make some changes to their everyday life including paying much closer attention to what they are eating to make sure he gets the correct amount of insulin, as well as monitoring Landon’s behavior.
“We now have apps on our cell phones so I can know what his blood sugar is at any given time,” Olsen said.
Additionally, Olsen said that they have an alarm that will go off when they are sleeping if his blood sugar gets too low and says that they are up at least once on five out of every seven nights to give him food.
Daphne Dickens, Iowa’s director of development for the American Diabetes Association was on hand to receive the donation on behalf of the ADA.
“It’s amazing to see the support that the local officers have for their own, especially when a family is just first dealing with a 2-year-old being diagnosed,” Dickens said. “It’s just great to see them rally around her and support our association.”
Even though the American Diabetes Association is a national organization, all of the money donated in Iowa is used locally for education, advocacy efforts and for two research projects at the University of Iowa.
Since the diagnosis on Oct. 15, Olsen said they have received help and information from Blank Children’s Hospital, the American Diabetes Association and from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Olsen said that she didn’t know much about diabetes before the diagnosis, but that has all changed.
“I obviously have a very personal interest in finding a cure and the research,” Olsen said. “I don’t want my son to have this in 10 years. I really hope that they can find a cure.”