June 23, 2019 Eye Associates

Nicholas A. Pennipede Memorial Scholarship Winner: Regan Licciardello, Spring 2019

Congratulations to Regan Licciardello, a first-year pre-med student at Texas A&M University, who is our Spring 2019 Nicholas A. Pennipede Memorial Scholarship winner! Regan will receive $1,000 from Eye Associates to apply toward her education.

We were moved by Regan’s essay about losing her young brother to type 1 diabetes, and wanting to use her education to help other children with the disease. She wrote, in part:

At age nine, my brother Cash, my greatest hero, was diagnosed with type 1 (or juvenile) diabetes. As he struggled with his disease, I witnessed health scares, hospitalizations and even several times when Cash lapsed into month-long comas. Our lives revolved around the next hospitalization, mounting medical expenses, and my mother’s determination to provide Cash with the best childhood and medical care possible, though none of her efforts changed the ultimate outcome of his story.

When Cash died, my heart was crushed and ached like nothing I had ever felt. As I struggled to find balance, I would imagine my brother looking down on me, whispering that I needed to be patient, calm, diligent and strong, and I desperately wanted him to be as proud of me as I had been of him. The best legacy that I can give to the brother I lost is fullness of life, joy and success.

My desire is to become an endocrinologist who strives to help children with all types of endocrine problems, especially type 1 diabetes. I plan to accomplish this by pursuing a medical degree, establishing a practice and touching one child at a time. Perhaps then countless lives will be served by the long-lasting impact of one young man who died of type 1 diabetes.

It is truly an honor for us to offer annual financial assistance to compassionate, hard-working students like Regan. Eye Associates provides two Nicholas A. Pennipede Memorial Scholarships each year (spring and fall). For Fall 2019 application information, please visit our scholarship page.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes in children usually develop quickly, over a period of weeks, and can include:

  • Increased thirst and frequent urination. Excess sugar building up in your child’s bloodstream pulls fluid from tissues. As a result, your child might be thirsty, and drink and urinate more than usual. A young, toilet-trained child might suddenly experience bed-wetting.
  • Extreme hunger. Without enough insulin to move sugar into your child’s cells, your child’s muscles and organs lack energy. This triggers intense hunger.
  • Weight loss. Despite eating more than usual to relieve hunger, your child may lose weight – sometimes rapidly. Without the energy that sugar supplies, muscle tissues and fat stores simply shrink. Unexplained weight loss is often the first sign of type 1 diabetes noticed in children.
  • Fatigue. Lack of sugar in your child’s cells might make him or her tired and lethargic.
  • Irritability or behavior changes. In addition to mood problems, your child might suddenly have a decline in performance at school.
  • Fruity-smelling breath. Burning fat instead of sugar produces certain substances (ketones) that can cause a fruity breath odor.
  • Blurred vision. If your child’s blood sugar is too high, fluid may be pulled from the lenses of your child’s eyes. Your child might be unable to focus clearly.

See your child’s physician immediately if you notice any of these symptoms of type 1 diabetes.

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