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The Randall family donned their “Team Reagan” shirts while travelling.
It all began with a lemonade stand.
“I had a big sign,” Reagan Randall recalled. “People would buy lemonade, and they’d hand me an extra $10 bill or a $5 bill and say, ‘keep the change.’ That’s where it all started.”
The Randall family, owners of McKinney’s Home Decorating in downtown Mauston, has raised more than $48,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation since their daughter’s diagnosis in 2015.
“It took off from there,” her mother, Jennifer Randall said.
Now, eight years later, the Randalls have completed their latest JDRF One Walk as a family in Fitchburg on Sunday. With Reagan headed off to college next fall, it’s the end of an era. The family has walked in every local JDRF fundraiser since 2015, with the exception of the last two walks that were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The family has participated in every local JDRF fundraiser since 2015.
But the Randalls weren’t always so dedicated to the cause.
Jennifer Randall was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes during her first pregnancy. At first, doctors thought she had gestational diabetes — a form of high blood sugar that affects pregnant women who didn’t previously have diabetes.
“That wasn’t the case,” Jennifer said. “I went through testing, and then years later, after I’d had Reagan, I was done. My pancreas was done.”
The Randalls weren’t aware of any family history of Type 1 diabetes. Regardless, after Jennifer’s diagnosis, doctors let them know that there was a 3% chance their children would be Type 1 as well.
There are fewer than 200,000 cases of juvenile diabetes diagnosed in the United States each year, and 5% to 10% of people with diabetes have Type 1. Daily care includes following a strict diet, receiving insulin injections and constantly monitoring for low blood sugar.
“I’d say it took me three years to really accept it. I had nobody to guide me or teach me. I didn’t want to be on insulin, so I wanted to do what I could to prolong that process. Well, being Type 1, you can’t do that,” Jennifer said.
One Christmas, the family was struck with the flu. All but one of the Randall children fell ill. While others recovered, Reagan, who was just 9 years old, seemed to only worsen. She was later diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, which can be triggered by bad viruses and usually develops in children, teens and young adults. Soon they were testing Reagan every hour and a half to two hours by finger poke.
For the Randall family, the injections were the hardest part. Until she could go on an insulin pump, Reagan had to receive 10 injections a day.
Reagan Randall with her first lemonade stand. 
“My fingers are still scarred from it,” Reagan said. “And just the fear of needles that all children have … . I refused to take the shot. You’d have to sit down and talk to me for an hour just to get me to take it.”
“I never, ever wanted to see a child go through that. It was very, very difficult. But we got through it. And she’s a rock star!” Jennifer added.
Reagan had to be woken up continuously throughout the night for the first three years after her diagnosis to be given shots. Jennifer would drive to Reagan’s school two to three times throughout the day to administer them. Even when Reagan eventually learned how to do the injections herself, Jennifer would continue to talk her through the process over the phone.
According to the family, their pivotal moment was sending Reagan to a diabetes camp. Camp Lakota, which was put on by the Lions Club, put her with 200 other kids who were all going through the same thing — testing, injections, special diets.
Camp Lakota was the Randalls’ introduction to the community of people living with diabetes. Later, their doctor at UW Health sent them home with a backpack with the JDRF mascot Rufus on it, and the family was immediately hooked.
“Once you know these people, it’s like they’re your people. You don’t even have to speak to each other; you just know what each other are going through,” Jennifer said. “I always had empathy, but to go through any hardship in life makes you feel more.”
In 2021, about 175,000 people worldwide died because of Type 1 diabetes, and 63% to 70% of the deaths in those under age 25 occurred because the disease wasn’t diagnosed. While Type 1 is now diagnosed in adults more often than in children, children are more at risk for death from the disease.
And Type 1 diagnoses are only going to become more common. Researchers currently estimate that the number of people with Type 1 diabetes worldwide could double by 2040, resulting in 17.4 million cases. Reasons for this could include better testing, but the increase in cases will mean an increase in responsibilities for families and community groups.
Reagan Randall surrounded by all the injections she received in one year. 
“What I’ve noticed growing up is that it’s becoming more common. Of course, it’s not good for the people who are diagnosed and struggling, but it has its perks,” Reagan explained. “It makes us feel like we’re not the only ones.”
From her first injection to her last year of high school, Reagan and the rest of the Randalls learned to rely on the support of community members and fellow families affected by diabetes. In recent years, the Randalls have taken to helping other families that are struggling with a Type 1 diagnosis. They’ve invited parents and their newly diagnosed children into their house to demonstrate finger poking and injections with Reagan.
Giving back — whether by raising money, helping other children adjust to their diagnosis or making a pitcher of lemonade — just felt natural to the mother-daughter duo.
“We will never forget the support we’ve had in our community,” Jennifer said. “The smallest gesture just means the world to us.”
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The Randall family donned their “Team Reagan” shirts while travelling.
Reagan Randall with her first lemonade stand. 
Reagan Randall surrounded by all the injections she received in one year. 
The family has participated in every local JDRF fundraiser since 2015.
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