Everyday Heroes: Carson Magee
COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — It’s a big day for Carson Magee. On a chilly November morning, Carson is getting ready to ride 3.5 miles on his unicycle from Coeur d’Alene’s McEuen Park all the way to Riverstone to raise awareness for a disease he’s been living with the past four years.
“Type 1 diabetes stinks,” Carson said. “Yeah, when we find a cure, life’s going to be a lot easier.”
For now, 11-year-old Carson is focused on his blood sugar level. He endures multiple finger pokes to check his blood, as many as ten times a day. And it’s especially important for the morning’s event because he’ll need the energy.
Carson’s blood sugar is low but a quick snack will equip him for “Unicycling for a Cure,” an event he created to coincide with American Diabetes Month. Carson invited pro cyclist Dave Holden to ride along with him. Holden is a Spokane native who’s part of an elite team of athletes with Type 1 diabetes (T1D).
“He’s a special kid, he’s got lots of ideas about to how improve T1D management,” Holden said about Carson. “I know he’s come up with some small inventions, but they’re still great ideas about how you can better manage T1D so, yeah, he’s an impressive kid.”
Carson is impressive for sure. You could even call him a wunderkind.
We first caught up with Carson in Hayden, ID in October, where he had scheduled a meeting with U.S. Senator Jim Risch of Idaho. With his T1D friends by his side, the 6th grader turned pint-sized activist urged the senator to support legislation to provide Medicare coverage for glucose monitors for seniors.
So how does an 11-year-old get a meeting with a U.S. Senator, let alone convince him to co-sponsor legislation to fund his cause?
Let’s start from the beginning.
“I went for a checkup and my mom just mentioned that I was drinking a lot of water, so the doctor said that I should probably get tested for diabetes,” Carson said. “So I got tested for that and basically he came back and he was almost in tears. He said ‘Go to the hospital. Pack your bags and go to the hospital.'”
Carson was just 7-years-old when his was diagnosed with T1D and he had no idea how it was about to change his young life. Living with an incurable disease can be a monumental challenge for a young kid. How you deal with it can also give you a new purpose. And for Carson, that purpose is finding a cure.
“I didn’t want to get shots or prick my finger anymore, so that why I wanted to find a cure, so I started advocating.”
Not just advocating, Carson began inventing. He created a blood sugar test kit that takes on the shape of a wristwatch and came up with the “Swipe and Wipe,” a three-in-one blood sugar test strip. He won Idaho state awards for both inventions.
He also won a contest, co-sponsored by Ford, for a race car design that raised nearly $4,000 for diabetes research. Carson was selected to be a child delegate to Washington D.C. where he encouraged members of Congress to continue funding diabetes research, at the tune of $150 million annually. And just recently, he convinced Idaho Governor Butch Otter to designate the second Monday in February “Type 1 Diabetes Awareness Day.”
Does he ever stop and wonder “Why me?”
“Yeah, I actually wonder that a lot,” Carson said. “It’s an auto immune disease, you can’t really do anything to get it, but, you know, God has a plan for me.”
That plan? “To find a cure for diabetes, to stay strong and to help advocate.”
Whether he’s inventing, meeting with lawmakers, raising money for research, or unicycling for the cause, Carson is always advocating. To bring awareness to a disease he refuses to let sideline or derail him. But one that’s set him on a spiritual course.
“I have to give it to God,” Carson said. “Because he just kind of helps me stay up, stay strong, and when I’m having bad times or something, he helps me get through that.”