In many ways, Alyssa Kimble is a lot like her fellow 7th graders at Highlands Middle School in White Plains, NY. But here are a couple of things that set her apart: She’s a competitive alpine skier who started racing five years ago. And she has type 1 diabetes (T1D). “The thing is that diabetes is part of your life, but it doesn’t really stop you from doing anything,” said the mature and self-confident 12-year-old who was diagnosed with T1D last summer.
Her older brother also has T1D, so when Alyssa started showing the telltale signs of the condition (at the time of diagnoses she was drinking a lot of water) her parents knew to take her to the doctor straightaway. While it was (and is) difficult managing two kids with different eating habits at the same time, the Kimble’s were already experts in T1D and even had a spare Dexcom, so Alyssa was able to start the continuous glucose monitor (CGM) on the day of diagnosis. “For us, the Dexcom has been a valuable tool,” said mom Diedre. “We were lucky that she saw the benefits it has had for her brother.”
Alyssa goes to school Monday through Thursday and skis from Friday through Sunday during the winters. The Kimble’s have a home in Vermont so Alyssa is able to train at Mount Snow in Dover and Haystack Mountain in Wilmington. Her ski team (a group of about 25 kids from the northeast of the United States) is affiliated with Mount Snow Academy, a winter sports academy for elite ski racers. Alyssa has loved being on the mountain since the age of three when she started attending the Jiminy Peak ski school in Massachusetts.
Everyone on Alyssa’s team is supportive of her diabetes. While she had been giving herself multiple insulin injections daily, last month Alyssa went on the new Medtronic MiniMed 670G insulin pump, a hybrid closed loop system, which means, among other things, that when it is in auto mode, she will be able to spend a lot less time testing her blood sugar and administering insulin and more on the slopes skiing. Right now, she says, one of the toughest parts about having diabetes as a skier is making healthy food choices at ski venues. “I stick to soup or my mom packs me lunch,” said Alyssa, who lines her pockets with Twizzlers or Starbursts for all the times she goes low while racing.
She has drive, ambition, focus and passion for her sport, but Alyssa has no current plans to train for a future Olympics—just to watch the current Pyeongchang Games televised from South Korea “I don’t want to do it for a living,” Alyssa said about her sport, “but for now it’s fun.”