Debra Franco


Hi my name is Debra Franco and I am the President and one of the Co-Founders of the South Texas Juvenile Diabetes Association. When we came together and decided this was an imperative need in the Valley and that families were desperate to help their children with very little resources available to them, we launched STJDA. Although the task was very daunting it has been the most rewarding endeavor I have ever undertaken and my own family, along with those of the Rio Grande Valley has reaped the benefits.

When we started STJDA my son Luke was 8 years old and had just been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. We quickly saw him very depressed and angry at the diagnosis and his drastic lifestyle change. He was convinced he was the only one and refused to accept or adapt to it. Our family was in turmoil and there was no help in sight. After reaching out to everyone I knew I found a friend who knew someone that had a child with type 1 diabetes. I immediately reached out to her and she knew another family and so on. We gathered for play dates a few times for the kids to meet each other. It was after the first play date that I knew getting these kids together was important. Luke had fought to get his sugar checked every time until that first meeting with the other families. He saw the other diabetic children checking their own sugar and even giving themselves their own insulin. The first meeting with these other children gave Luke the confidence he needed to check his own sugar and it was not long after that he was giving himself his own injections too.

I have been asked, “Why is STJDA important to you?” I don’t know where my family would be without STJDA. I don’t know if we would have made it! STJDA has given our family the support and encouragement we needed to make life with diabetes hopeful instead of hopeless. Luke has his struggles here and there but just knowing that he is not alone gives him the strength he needs to make it one day at a time. STJDA is important to me because no family should have to go through what we went through after the initial diagnosis. No child should have to feel isolated or alone. STJDA provides a lifeline to newly diagnosed families and the Valley is a better place because of it!

Debra Franco
President / Co-Founder
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