A Type of Celebration

Emma Sieveking celebrates her six- year diaversary with a 24-mile run


Sieveking smiles with her family on vacation. Despite six years with diabetes, she seeks to improve and stay positive each day.

We celebrate lots of things, from birthdays and anniversaries, to accomplishments and memories, we are surrounded by momentous occasions that mark an impactful milestone. For Emma Sieveking, she celebrates an annual ‘diaversary,’ her diagnosis day for Type 1 diabetes. Six years ago, the night before her 11th birthday, her parents rushed her to the hospital where she stayed for almost a week. In uncertain times filled with worry and a flood of difficult emotions, Sieveking had to relearn how to keep herself alive. With the diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes, her life forever changed. 

“[My parents] said it was like bringing home a new baby because they had so much to learn just to keep me alive,” Sieveking said. 

Her sister, Claire Sieveking, also felt the difficulties from the adjustments. Between accommodating a new low-carb diet for a brief time, and taking the time to help count carbs and calculate the insulin units needed, she realized it would take time to adjust to their ‘new normal.’

“My goal [is to] do what [I] want. Don’t let this hold [me] back…never let it stop me.” ”

— Sieveking

“I [realized] things were going to change around the house and my [family’s] normal routine would be different…many people don’t really understand how difficult and time-consuming Type 1 is,” Claire said. 

Weeks after her release from the hospital, Emma started her first year of public school. Between learning to manage a new disease, and facing a school full of new people and a different atmosphere, Sieveking found herself anxious about the changes, feeling that she wouldn’t be a ‘normal kid.’ 

“Nothing was comfortable…[it] was all kind of overwhelming,” Emma said. 

Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease in which the body attacks the pancreas, an organ that produces insulin to regulate blood sugars. As of yet, there is no cure, and it requires daily care and attention to maintain healthy levels. Getting too high or too low gets painful and dangerous. 

“You have to take care of yourself at that 100 percent mark or it’s not even worth it…If I get the stomach flu or anything worse, I’m in the hospital for at least a week…if I don’t take insulin I will die. If I take too much insulin I will die. It’s constant,” Sieveking said. 

Although her life with Type 1 is a continuous fight, Sieveking refuses to give up. She remains an athlete, participating in the softball team, and a good student. 

“My goal [is to] do what [I] want. Don’t let this hold [me] back…never let it stop me,” Sieveking said.

With the onset of COVID-19, she found herself longing to see her friends again. As numbers decreased and the world started emerging from quarantine for a brief period of time, she saw an opportunity: an organized 24-mile run in 24 hours to fundraise and celebrate the six years of her life with Type 1. 

“I was super excited and proud to hear that she was doing a fundraiser to help people in need,” Claire said about her sister.

 The funds, over $1000, were raised and donated to Friends of Children, a program run by the Francis Howell School District. The program strives to help local families with costs of medicines, treatments, doctors appointments, and more. 

“I wanted to donate to…something that could help someone just like me.” ”

— Sieveking


“I wanted to donate to…something that could help someone just like me,” Sieveking said.

To this day, she finds herself fondly recalling the event, both the laughter and chaos, and hopes to be able to do it again. 

“I love helping my community….it was so fun….[and] I was able to share my story to a lot of people,” Sieveking said.

Sieveking knows she’ll always have to make a commitment to her health, and through her journey, she hopes to raise awareness for Type 1 and provide support to those who need it.