Mike Veiga's son was diagnosed as a juvenile type 1 insulin dependent diabetic just over three years ago. But that hasn't stopped 10-year-old Mikey, who is a very active athlete, from playing his favorite sports, baseball and soccer.
His father said for the most part his son is just like every other kid, with the exception of having to poke his finger to check his blood glucose levels eight to 10 times a day and inserting a small needle into his body, which connects to a pump that supplies his pint-sized body with insulin.
"We check before each game, sometimes during the game and right after to make sure his levels are where they should be," said Veiga. "If in the middle of a game his blood glucose levels go to low, he gets light-headed, weak and is at risk of passing out."
But Mikey isn't the only kid in Tehachapi who battles the disease. There are at least three other children and their families who share the Veiga's daily trials and triumphs.
But there is hope, as diabetes research has helped to improve the quality of life and the length of life of the more than 15,000 children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes every year in the U.S.
That's why the Knights of Columbus is sponsoring its 2nd Annual Charity Golf Tournament to Benefit Juvenile Diabetes Research on Oct. 12, at Horsethief Country Club in Stallion Springs.
Last year, 76 golfers took a swing at raising $3,906 at the inaugural tournament, which was all donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation on behalf of two children in Tehachapi.
This year, the tournament will sponsor four children including Mikey, with the hopes of raising a minimum of $7,000.
Veiga said 100 percent of the money will be donated to JDRF.
Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. The risk of death for people with diabetes is about double that of people of similar age without diabetes.
And when parents are faced with learning that their child has the disease, the news can be devastating.
"Obviously we were in shock, wondering how it could have happened," said Veiga. "Then the questions came. Why did this happen? Could we have prevented it? Could we have caught this earlier? As we learned more about the disease we discovered that our son's type of diabetes was not preventable and we were lucky to catch it when we did."
Experts say noticing early warning signs of diabetes can help keep blood sugars from reaching dangerous levels, which can be fatal.
Veiga said that he and his wife first knew something was wrong with their son when over a period of a couple weeks their he started getting up several times a night using the bathroom, was drinking a lot of water and was extremely tired all the time.
However, there was some relief for the Veiga's after learning the progress that has been made in dealing with diabetes and discovering that their son's disease was manageable to some extent.
"In the end we felt extremely blessed that our son was still with us and healthy," Veiga said.
To reserve a spot, make a donation or to sponsor a hole in this year's tournament, contact Joseph McDonald at 661-932-2738 or email@example.com.