10-Year-Old Gymnast Joins 'Step Out to Fight Diabetes' - 8 News NOW

10-Year-Old Gymnast Joins 'Step Out to Fight Diabetes'

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A local gymnastics student continues to raise the bar on her skills, in spite of having to deal with diabetes. And like other diabetic athletes, she's not the only one paying attention to how the disease may be affecting her performance.

Ten-year-old Lena Ekman maintains a busy practice schedule. And she's used to it, having been involved in gymnastics since she was 3. "I go Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday."

Lena is also a type-1 diabetic. She has to check her blood sugar levels throughout the day. Insulin doses are usually delivered by a pump which she connects herself. And she's learned to recognize signs that her glucose levels are too low.

"Like, sometimes I feel shaky -- like I'm going to wobble and like I'm going to fall over. And it means I'm going low. Like my blood sugar is 45. That's really low. Perfect is like 100, around there," she said.

But if Lena is caught up in the moment, especially during the excitement of competition -- she might not pick up on otherwise obvious symptoms. That's when it may be up to the watchful eye of her coach to know that something isn't right.

Lena's coach at Go For It, USA, Jessica Yaklin, can usually recognize the signs of high or low sugar levels, such as glassy eyes or missteps that go beyond just having an off day.

"If she's doing a skill that she's done for quite a few years now, and is all the sudden having some major issues it, it could be the sugars or lack of sugars that are interfering with those issues," said Yaklin.

Lena's mother, Julie Ekman is also on hand during practice -- making sure that snacks and meals are eaten on time and that glucose checks aren't forgotten.

"That's just something we live with, but that's not the focus of our life. It's gymnastics and other things. And we want her to have that healthy attitude. And she has been extremely healthy because of this," said Julie.

Lena and her teammates will be joining us on Sept. 20 -- a Saturday -- for the Step Out to Fight Diabetes fundraising event at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park. We're all looking forward to it and it's not too late to register

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