Legislator's Passion for Diabetes Awareness Began at Home
Byline: Janice Youngwith
Supporting research and sponsoring legislation for those with diabetes is a passion for Rep. Tom Cross, Oswego.
Cross, who represents the 84th district and serves as minority leader in the Illinois House of Representatives, is no stranger to the fears, concerns and challenges diabetes presents. His 17-year-old daughter, Reynolds, was diagnosed with the disease at age 6.
"She was very ill, lost weight and constantly thirsty," recalls Cross of their initial visit to the Rush Copley Memorial emergency room. She was airlifted to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital with life-threatening diabetic ketoacidosis, says Cross, a member of the Juvenile Diabetes Association board of directors. "But we were fortunate and Reynolds' condition stabilized."
Now a varsity tennis and travel soccer player, Reynolds uses an insulin pump to deliver a basal unit of insulin throughout her day. Cross says her experience growing up with diabetes also makes her an excellent baby sitter for a neighbor child with diabetes.
Cross has sponsored a number of legislative initiatives relating to the disease, including passage of the stem cell research and human cloning prevention act. His recent efforts focus on House Bill 6065 for the Care of Students With Diabetes.
"Not all students attend schools with an on-site nurse to help monitor blood glucose levels or administer insulin and lifesaving glucagon," he says. "Many people approached me looking for help in managing situations where nurses are not available in schools. I've heard from parents who have to quit their jobs to make multiple daily trips to aid in monitoring their child's diabetes needs."
Because diabetes must be managed 24 hours a day, Cross and his wife, Genie, were relieved to find nursing assistance available at school during Reynolds' early school years. …