‘Miller’s Marlins’ raise 6K for juvenile diabetes research

“How many more days do I have diabetes?”

It’s a question 5-year-old Miller Sumwalt, who has Type 1 diabetes, has asked his parents numerous times.

“We tell him that this is something you have,” his mother, Janel Sumwalt, said. “And, hopefully, there is going to be a cure, and we’re looking for a cure.”

Miller was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease where the pancreas produces little or no insulin, when he was age 3. He wears a sensor and a pump that his parents monitor throughout the day.

“It’s a constant worry,” Jeff Sumwalt said of his son’s condition.

Sometimes, Miller’s sensor goes off in the middle of the night when his blood sugar hits a low point, which prompts his parents to wake up and give him a snack, Ms. Sumwalt said, who previously took a leave from work to take care of her son.

But none of the complications have stopped Miller from functioning like any other kid: He stays active by playing soccer with older kids and loves to fish with his family at South Jamesport Beach.

“We always joke that he’s like the mayor,” Ms. Sumwalt said. “He knows so many people and is loved by so many people.”

Last month, the Aquebogue family raised over $6,000 for Type 1 diabetes research through JDRF One Walk, a national march dedicated to raising money for juvenile diabetes research.

Miller’s parents and siblings, Ava Lily and Griffin, registered for the Oct. 19 walk at Heckscher State Park in East Islip. Ms. Sumwalt said the decision was made “on a whim” in mid-September.

As information about the walk spread, “more and more friends wanted to join the walk,” she said.

Over 70 friends, family and community members walked with “Miller’s Marlins,” named after Miller’s love for fishing. Family friend and graphic designer Meredith Kennedy created matching shirts for the participants and was later awarded first place by JDRF for her design.

Mr. Sumwalt said his son “felt like a celebrity for the day” after he was asked to cut the ribbon to initiate the race. Mr. Sumwalt said he’s grateful for the outpouring of support.

“Everyone always asks about Miller and I think everybody said we’ll be back next year,” he said. “I can see this being even bigger next year and we’ll participate from years to come.”

Ms. Sumwalt said her son is a “rock star” that serves as an inspiration to all their family and friends.

“We’re so proud of what he goes through every day, and he doesn’t even think anything of it,” she said.

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