Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Tony, Emmy or Oscar in the Future?

Cheering in seventh grade.
 I've been trying to track down Sydney Mahon for an interview for some time, but she's a busy young lady!  Diabetic since 2005, only days before she entered second grade, Sydney will be an eighth grader at Loveland Middle School this fall.  If you don't have a chance to see her cheering along the sidelines you'll just have to catch her later up on stage.

Ms. Mahon is what they call in theater "a triple threat."  That means she can "sing, dance and act."  And a career in one of these areas is Sydney's passion.  She's been taking dance lessons for ten years already, so it's certainly not a passing fancy; and she was bit seriously by the acting bug in fifth grade when she took part in a Loveland High School performance, after she tried out and made the children's chorus.  Sydney remembers coming off the stage that first night and thinking, "Wow, that was awesome."  "I was just really happy," she says, and so that's how she got into acting.

I asked her if she was excited about going into eighth grade.  "No, not really," she replied honestly, with a little laugh.  Then she did say she was looking forward to trying out for the plays, under director Shawn Miller.  (If you've never seen a LMS stage production, trust me, you're missing out on great work by a lot of talented young people.)

Sydney at acting camp, second from left.
I had talked to Sydney briefly at school, one day in June, when visiting Mr. Dave Fletcher's classes to talk about my bicycle rides across the United States.  It didn't take long to figure out that Ms. Mahon was a cheerful, upbeat young lady.  Now, when I had her on the phone, I asked her to describe herself.  She hesitated at first, then said, "Well...I'm nice to people."  That's a telling start and a good one.  She went on to say, "I'll open up to them if they really have a problem," then she admitted, "I'm pretty active," so she doesn't have as much time to talk and hang out as she might like.

Monica, her mom, remembers the date at once when I ask her how long her daughter has been a type-1 diabetic:  "August 15, 2005."  She remembers when Sydney was young that she was embarrassed to let other kids at school know she was.  Later, they hit a rought patch in sixth grade, when Sydney stopped checking her blood at night.  When mom asked, she', she'd lie...and say she had checked and make up some number.

"That was a bad scene," mom says now; but they are past it. 

You can tell from talking to Mrs. Mahon and then talking to Sydney that this is a young lady who seriously has her act together.  Her older sister, MacKenzie, is also big in theater and this summer both girls hope to spend a week at Camp Korelitz with other diabetic kids.  (MacKenzie, going into her sophomore year at Loveland, is not diabetic but will be working as a counselor.)

Last year Sydney made the seventh grade cheerleading squad, but thought she might have to choose between cheering practice and the week of camp at Korelitz.  It was looking like a tough choice, but Sydney was adamant about going to camp--but in the end the cheerleading coach and Sydney managed to work it all out.

Being diabetic isn't exactly good; but Sydney has had some good experiences.  When she was really little she and her sister went to an American Idol concert.  One of the contestants was diabetic and someone in charge noticed the girls' t-shirts mentioning diabetes and they ended up being invited back stage.  The performer with type-1 diabetes wasn't there, but Ace Young, another contestant, sat Sydney down and they talked for fifteen minutes.

Mom says, enthusiastically, that Ace was "totally hunky," which gives me a good laugh.

Last year, at diabetes camp, Sydney won tickets to a Jonas Brothers concert and got to go back stage again.  Nick Jonas is also a type-1 diabetic and pulled Sydney aside and gave her a necklace.  On the reverse it read:  "A little bit longer and I'll be fine."

Sydney and I talk a little bit longer and I gathered a few random details:  I ask if she's into boys yet, or not there.  "Oh, I'm there," she says immediately.  I find out she's a pretty good student, too, and liked Mr. John Wise's class best in seventh grade.  Why Mr. Wise, I wondered.  "He's funny," she said, "just a good teacher, overall."  She's good friends, "close" she says, with Alyssa Heal, also a Loveland cheerleader and also going into the eight grade.  Alyssa, too, is a type-1 diabetic.  The two friends don't dwell on it when they get together, but sometimes they'll see each other at the school nurse's office when they go to check their blood, and one will ask the other, "What was your number?"

Finally, Sydney admits being diabetic can make her "sad" occasionally, or "cranky," but you can almost tell she's smiling when she says so. 

Afterall, she's a positive girl.

Sydney, right, before she was diabetic, when eating ice cream wasn't a hassle.
MacKenzie is at left.
If you would like to donate to help find a cure for type-1 diabetes please click HERE

(This single click takes you to my fund-raising page.  There, click again on "donate to this event."  Then click "Biking and Painting for Diabetes."

1 comment:

  1. John: These are great mini-stories you are telling! Hey, rode 33 miles today, and a 39 miler last weekend. Will plan to dedicate almost daily biking (gym, road) and a long weekend-ride until late August. Hoping to see you crest Tioga Pass around the 23rd, and coast down 250 miles of CA hills with you! Tim V.