Beating Diabetes on the Basketball Court - – Rockford’s News Leader

Beating Diabetes on the Basketball Court


When you watch Belvidere's MacKenzie Beattie or Byron's Abby Richardson play basketball, you don't see the same silent fight for optimum health. 13 News, Weather, and Sports' Day of Positivity with a story of two athletes winning on and off the court.

It's a day stamped into memory.

"I was nine, it was September of 2009."

"It was November 18, 2010."

Those are the dates Mackenzie Beattie and Abby Richardson learned they were diabetics. It's a rigorous regimen of regulating their blood sugar.

"Even though it's kind of an invisible disease, no one ever sees the extra work that goes on behind the scenes," Richardson says. "You have to take into account everything you do. Every meal you eat, you have to figure out the carbs and how much insulin to take for it."

Abby's friend MacKenzie is singular at her school.

"I'm the only diabetic athlete at Belvidere High School."

Beattie's love of basketball comes at a price. Constantly monitoring, constantly making sure she can play at a high level.

"I test before the games and during halftime. If my blood sugar, I take an insulin shot. If it's low, I eat," Beattie says. "When I'm low, I can definitely tell because I can't concentrate on the game. I get really shaky. When I'm high, I don't really notice as much."

Diabetes hasn't deterred Beattie and Richardson from suiting up. Taking the extra step to manage their health puts their participation in perspective.

"When I was younger, I was playing basketball and soccer. I would just go out there and play," Richardson says. "I would take for granted the opportunity to play. As soon as I was diagnosed, everything changed and I started appreciating the sport a lot more."

The two Stateline athletes are members of Slam Dunk for Diabetes, bringing basketball players together to share their experiences.

"Basically it's a camp where a bunch of diabetics come together to play basketball," said Beattie. "I met two of my best friends there."

"You don't even feel like you have diabetes," says Richardson. "They make it easy for you to go and play and have fun with other people similar to you."

Whether their teams win or lose pales in comparison to the victories achieved by MacKenzie Beattie and Abby Richardson - beating diabetes one basket at a time.

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