Shawn Garrelts, right, is preparing to run in the Rock and Roll half marathon Jan. 16, to raise money for the American Diabetes Association. Her son, Caleb, 5, center, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes two years ago. Also in the photo are Kevin Garrelts, left, Gabriel Garrelts, 8, back row in between parents, and Jaden Garrelts, 3, on Shawn’s lap. Shawn is a high school science teacher at the Arizona Charter Academy, 16011 N. Dysart Road in Surprise.

Submitted photo

In many ways, 5-year-old Caleb Garrelts is like any other young boy.

But Caleb is different than many children in one key way — when he was 3 years old, he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Caleb’s mom, Shawn Garrelts, teaches high school science at Arizona Charter Academy in Surprise.

Shawn is training with Team Diabetes and will participate in the P.F. Chang’s Rock and Roll half marathon Jan. 16.  The money that Shawn and the rest of the team will raise will benefit the American Diabetes Association and kids just like Caleb.

So far, Shawn has raised $350 of the $1,000 she needs before race day.

“At this point, there is only one student with type 1 diabetes at our school, and it’s my son, but it is estimated that one in three kids will deal with diabetes in their lifetime so it is important to get the word out,” Shawn said. “I am a firm believer that you have to make the best of any situation, especially the tough ones.  Having a child with a chronic illness is difficult but sitting and thinking about how hard it isn’t going to do any good.”

In addition to training for the half-marathon, Shawn organizes an annual Dance for Diabetes at her school; her husband is the DJ and all admission money goes towards diabetes research.  And sheteaches units on both type 1 and type 2 diabetes to her students.

Heather Henderson, principal at Arizona Charter Academy, said she is impressed with Shawn’s commitment to her son and helping others learn about diabetes.

“Shawn is always thinking of ways she can help spread the word about diabetes and raise money to help fight it.  When she told me about the half marathon I was proud of her, but not necessarily surprised because to her it’s just another way she can do whatever she can to fight the disease she and her son live with everyday.”

Although training for the half marathon has been challenging, Shawn needs only to look at her son to feel motivated to hit the road for a run.

“I think being involved is important and being involved in those things you are most passionate about is essential, even therapeutic,” she said.

For information, call the school at 623-974-4959 or 602-478-8793.

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