The Press Newspaper
The Witt family held 3.1-mile walk-a-thons for many years, up until Cody was a freshman in high school.
The walkers would dress in orange-colored shirts with the words “Cody’s Grizzlies” emblazoned across the front. Their goal: to raise money to help find a cure for diabetes.
Fast forward from more than 12 years ago, when Cody Witt, now the only senior on the Lake boys basketball team, was diagnosed with Type 1 (then known as juvenile) diabetes. Witt, 17, walked into the Lake gym on Senior Night and saw a sea of orange T-shirts with “Cody’s Grizzlies” written across the front.
“They all told me all day it was a whiteout (for Senior Night),” Witt said. “I walked in and saw people wearing orange shirts. People told me that when they saw my face, it was priceless. To be honest, I almost teared up knowing that all those people did that just for me. The fact that they kept that a secret all week was a huge accomplishment. It was a night I’ll never forget.”
Anyone who knows Witt usually forgets that he has Type 1 diabetes. He manages it that well. Type 1 diabetes affects just 5 percent of the people diagnosed with diabetes. Type 1 diabetics do not produce insulin, a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy.
“I was diagnosed when I was four and a half years old,” Witt said. “I was dependent on shots of insulin three or four times a day. My third grade year I got the insulin pump. I no longer have to take shots nearly as often. If there is problem with the pump, I will take a shot. It tests my sugar. If it’s high, or anytime I eat, I adjust it into the pump and it takes care of everything.”
The insulin pump, which is smaller than a cell phone, is connected to a catheter that Witt moves around inside his body every two or three days.
“Right now it’s in my leg,” he said. “There is a cartridge where every two or three days, when it runs out, I fill it up. There is a space to put the cartridge in the pump and a wire that connects it to the catheter.”
The Walk-A-Thons to benefit Cody’s Grizzlies started when Witt was in kindergarten.
“My favorite color at that time was orange,” he said, “and my favorite animal was a grizzly bear. We did a different sports theme every year. After the tornado hit, we did a tornado theme. I got so involved in sports, it got harder for people my age to participate and we kind of stopped. We had about 400 walkers my freshman year.”
The T-shirts came out again last Friday night, before the Flyers’ 75-49 win over Woodmore.
“All the kids had a Cody’s Grizzlies shirt,” Lake coach Ryan Bowen said. “It was something they put together. The students all wore the shirts and it was pretty neat. He had no idea; he was totally surprised. We told him we were going to have a whiteout. It was a pretty special moment.”
Witt said that ever since he was little, doctors have told him he would be able to lead a normal life and do what every other kid his age can do. Witt is living proof.
“That’s what I strive to do,” he said. “For the most part, I can live a normal life. This is just something that’s been a part of my life and something I’ve learned to deal with.”
It’s pretty amazing that Witt can play basketball (he starts at guard) and baseball (second base, shortstop) at a high level.
“You would never know,” Bowen said. “He’s unbelievable checking himself, and he’s a phenomenal kid. He always checks his numbers. He’s a captain and he’s our vocal guy. He’s a special kid, dealing with all that. You would never know he has diabetes. It just doesn’t even come up in conversation.”
Bowen said Witt has the freedom to check his blood sugar, get a drink of juice, whatever, anytime he wants.
“He knows when things are bad,” the coach said. “In games it’s not too bad. He checks himself before games and we’ve never had a problem where he’s had to leave. In practice he’s had to get a quick drink of juice or something like that.”
Witt said he’s never had any serious issues during a game.
“I’ve never really had bad dehydration, but it happens every once in a while,” he said. “I check it three or four times before a game, during halftime, during timeouts. I usually keep a pretty good tab on it. My friends have been unbelievable about it. I think some of them know more about (diabetes) than I do. I’ve had incredible support from my family, friends, teachers and coaches.”
With Witt in the starting backcourt, the Flyers took off this season. They entered Division II sectional tournament play at Clay with a 21-1 record – a school record for wins – and won their second Northern Buckeye Conference championship in three years.
Bowen said Witt’s averages — 7.5 points, two rebounds and two assists a game — don’t tell the whole story of what Witt has meant to this team, which is ranked sixth in the state. Witt was not a starter as a junior, but he was the first player off the bench.
“It was difficult going into this season knowing I was going to be the lone senior,” Witt said. “Finishing out my season, winning the championship knowing I’m the only senior, it’s an unbelievable experience. We had high expectations. Before every game we said we’re going to be 1-0 by the end of this night. For the most part we fulfilled that. We were very happy with the results.
“Being the only senior has made my leadership skills only greater and just helped me build for the future.”
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