Gannon Raguse is an aspiring psychologist who loves to dabble in photography.
He lives just south of Nisswa and is a junior at Brainerd High School. This year Raguse had the option of taking post-secondary classes instead of normal 11th-grade classes, but he decided he wanted the full high school experience. Even so, his classes this year will include Advanced Placement classes in psychology, human geography and language and composition.
Raguse collects vintage cameras and he’s already had four different jobs. He plays saxophone in the school band and is an active member of the Lutheran Church of the Cross in Nisswa youth group. He particularly enjoys involvement in mission work, outreach and soup kitchens through his youth group.
Raguse is a normal kid. He has a lot of goals set out for himself. Helping to find a cure for diabetes is one of them, since he was diagnosed with type one diabetes at age 7.
“I was in kindergarten and my teacher noticed I was going to the bathroom all the time and I was always drinking water,” Raguse said. “She alerted my mom.”
Raguse, the son of Bryan and Karen Raguse, was attending Nisswa Elementary School, and he was the only student there with diabetes. Many of his schoolmates were curious and confused. Among other things, they learned from Raguse that diabetes is not contagious.
A lot has changed. In Brainerd, Raguse is one of about a half dozen students with diabetes. He has also changed how he takes his insulin. He first used syringes for insulin, then pen injectors and nine years after he was first diagnosed he was put on an insulin pump.
“I’ve been on the pump for about two years and that’s just made the biggest impact on my life,” he said. “It’s made living life a lot easier. I don’t have to constantly stab myself with needles.”
There are some things that haven’t changed. Raguse still needs to take blood sugar readings first thing in the morning and before meals. He still has to count carbs and he is still an advocate for the Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes.
Raguse first joined the walk in kindergarten, where he not only educated his classmates, but also encouraged them to get involved. He hasn’t missed a year since.
“When I was first diagnosed and we found out about it we were gung ho about doing it,” he said, “about doing our part and helping raise funds and finding a cure for the disease. It’s progressed from there.”
Raguse is not only a walker in the event, he also serves regularly as a promoter. He and his mother, Karen, can be heard on the radio promoting the event.
“Each year we started out fundraising. We didn’t know much about diabetes or do anything with it. Two or three years ago I was a walk ambassador. I always do a PSA but that year I was interviewed for the radio station during the diabetes walk,” Raguse said. “I kind of got to start it for everyone. I kind of got to lead the pack.”
This year, Team Gannon will walk again at the Saturday, Oct. 5, event. It consists of a walk starting at the Northland Arboretum in Brainerd. The walk is approximately four miles one way. Team Gannon usually walks three miles out and three miles back. Last year, Team Gannon raised $2,509. The proceeds go toward the American Diabetes Association for the purpose of studying the disease with hopes of finding a solution. It’s also a chance to learn about diabetes.
“Do it, it’s definitely a great experience. Go and you can meet other diabetics and other people that support it. It’s a good social time to talk to other people and find out more information about diabetes,” Raguse said.
To donate on behalf of Team Gannon, visit http://main.diabetes.org/site/TR/StepOut/A6MNN-MinnesotaArea?team_id=639724&pg=team&fr_id=9170.
Travis Grimler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook.