“Lily’s New Pump” brings representation, awareness to childhood diabetes

A Wiregrass teen is on a mission to bring representation of chronic illnesses to bookshelves near you. This is all inspired by her older sister.
Updated: Feb. 28, 2023 at 4:30 PM CST
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - A Wiregrass teen is on a mission to bring representation of chronic illnesses to bookshelves near you. This is all inspired by her older sister.

“This tells the story of a little girl named Lily who gets a brand-new insulin pump, who goes through the ups and downs of this new change, and she has to learn to be brave, and she does learn to be brave, and she overcomes her diabetes to learn to be herself,” Caelyn Dolar, Miss Gulf Coast’s Outstanding Teen, said.

Dolar wrote Lily’s New Pump with her sister.

“Me and my sister realized that there isn’t a lot of books about children with type one diabetes, so we really wanted to close that gap,” Dolar said.

It’s a children’s story based on many people’s reality.

“Lily has a condition called type one diabetes,” Dolar read aloud.

A young character experiencing a diagnosis Jessica Wisdom understands all too well.

“When I was an 11-year-old girl sitting in a hospital bed, I cried and I said, ‘God, why me?’ and now everyday He gives me my answer because I get to help change people’s lives and more than anything I get to change their outlook on their disease,” Wisdom, MSN, CRNP, FNP-C, said.

Wisdom is a board-certified advanced diabetes management specialist. She is also the co-author of Lily’s New Pump.

“When Caelyn came to me with this idea, I was excited because as a type one diabetic and as a mom, I definitely recognize that there is a gap there and a need for that kind of thing and not just for children with type one diabetes but for chronic disease in general,” Wisdom said.

The idea behind the book started as a way to inform.

“I want this book to teach children with diabetes to not let the disease control you; you control it,” Dolar said.

The authors also want the book to bring the conversation of diabetes to the table.

“We want those kids to see that they are not alone and to have that opportunity to feel like normal kids because, ‘There is a book about this, and I am special too,’” Wisdom said. “But, even more importantly, to make those conversations for parents a little easier to have and in addition to that, bringing those conversations to the classroom setting because it is difficult as a child with a chronic disease to have to come into a classroom environment where everyone else is ‘normal’ and you’re ‘not.’

“So, it definitely gives teachers the opportunity to have those conversations when they have a child with type one diabetes to kind of shed some light and make it so ‘This child’s not different, they are just special.’”

Wisdom said she is excited to see the stigma of diabetes fade away through this book.

“[Readers] can see another child’s story that can make things a little bit easier for kids to understand what they are getting into when they get a new insulin pump and also to help them just not feel so alone,” Wisdom said. “It’s difficult at that age to be reading books about, you know if you like The Hunger Games or if you like The Maze Runner or anything like that, if you have type one diabetes those stories aren’t really integrated in the modern media and so it’s nice to have a story that those kids can relate to.”

This book is just the start for Dolar.

She is Miss Gulf Coast’s Outstanding Teen and the founder of a non-profit called “Let’s Be DiaBESTIES,” a support group for people who have diabetes.

“As I was growing up, I had to learn to adapt to this different lifestyle and my family has always been my sister’s number one supporter and as I got older, I realized, ‘What about the people who don’t have that support group?’ So, ‘Let’s Be DiaBESTIES was born.’”

More than 37 million people in the United States have diabetes, that’s according to the CDC.

This is why Dolar is working to educate, empower, and encourage those who have this diagnosis to know that they are not alone.

“The goal for ‘Let’s Be DiaBESTIES is to support people who are struggling with diabetes through fundraising, legislation and representation,” Dolar said.

Over the past three years, Dolar volunteered countless hours and raised money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the American Diabetes Association and Camp Seale Harris.

“I’m going to help make sure that one day that they get to live a normal life and not have to worry,” Dolar said.

Dolar competes in the Miss Alabama Outstanding Teen competition in March, but her mission will carry on beyond the competition.

“With or without a title, I’m going to continue to donate and volunteer because that’s what I feel like is right,” Dolar said.

She challenges you to join her.

“I would love to encourage other teenagers to start volunteering in their community,” Dolar said. “Find something that they’re passionate about.”

Click here to purchase a copy of Lily’s New Pump. Proceeds go to various non-profits working toward diabetes awareness.

Dolar also donated copies of the book to the Dothan-Houston County Library Systems.

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