Paige Maas, local elementary school student, advocates for those with diabetes

‘Fighting the good fight’

Paige Maas, a Hathaway Elementary School third-grader, shakes hands with Gov. Jay Inslee during a diabetes funding advocacy day held at the state Capitol.

‘Fighting the good fight’

On April 25, 2011, Paige Maas’s life changed forever.

It was the day she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

An active 7-year-old, Paige became lethargic, constantly thirsty and just wasn’t herself.

When her parents brought her to the doctor, her blood sugar level was dangerously high. She was admitted to Legacy Emanuel Hospital, where Brad and Pam were quickly immersed into the world of diabetes. There, they learned how to check her blood sugar levels and administer insulin.

“It was a surprise to learn she had this, but at the same time, she had all the classic symptoms,” Pam said. “Also, I have a first cousin whose son was diagnosed when he was quite young, so there is some family history.”

Paige is required to check her blood sugar six times a day. For the first year, she used a syringe but now has an insulin pump, which has helped stabilize her blood sugar and improved her quality of life.

“Diabetes management is painful but without proper blood sugar control, diabetics are at high risk for complications like kidney failure, blindness, heart disease, stroke, foot ulcers and amputations,” Brad said. “Now, she is an incredibly active third-grader at Hathaway Elementary School.”

She plays fall and spring soccer, takes swimming lessons and performs with the Virtuosity Performing Arts Studio in Camas. She is also an active member of the Girl Scouts. During the summer, she attends the Gales Creek Camp for diabetic children.

Recently, Paige traveled to Olympia to meet with legislators during a diabetes funding advocacy day. There, she met other diabetics from around the state, as well as Gov. Jay Inslee, who spoke to the group. At 9 years old, she was the youngest advocate to attend Diabetes Day at the Capitol.

“I met a diabetes dog, who is trained to sense high blood sugar levels,” Paige said. “That was really neat.”

She also talked with State Representatives Liz Pike (R-Camas) and Brandon Vick (R-Vancouver).

“During a group photo, Paige approached Gov. Inslee, shook his hand, introduced herself and invited him to join her Tour de Cure team,” Brad recalled. “Paige is fighting a good fight.”

Tour de Cure, which takes place in July, is a fundraiser for the American Diabetes Association. Last year, Paige’s team raised close to $5,000, and are hoping to double that this year.

“Last year, it was fun riding my bike and when we were done, they had a big inflatable waterslide,” Paige said.

Brad, who was relatively new to biking, completed the entire 100 mile course. Paige, her sister Jamie, and mom rode five miles, and plan on doing 10 this year.

Those interested in donating to “Paige’s Pilots” can browse main.diabetes.org/goto/paigemaas.

“Having diabetes is OK, but once in awhile, I just want to know ‘why me?’ Maas said. “Why did I have to get this? I get really tired and don’t want to move. Things are better now with the insulin pump, and I hope they keep getting better.”