This Hawaii resident is an advocate for diabetes research ... and he’s only 13

Nicholas Kaufman is a very active teenager — and an optimist.
Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 12:19 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 21, 2023 at 7:19 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nicholas Kaufman is a very active teenager — and an optimist. Ask him how Type 1 diabetes affects his life, and he says it can’t stop his positive outlook.

“I don’t actually remember living without it. I’ve just grown up with it,” he said. “It just can’t hold me back because then you’re not experiencing life.”

Despite the disease, the Mid-Pacific Institute eighth grader crams as much activity as he can into a 24-hour day.

“Last year I attended a fly-fishing academy up in the High Sierras. I play soccer and I surf a little bit,” he said.

Nicholas was diagnosed with diabetes when he was 2 and a half. He’s now an outspoken example of how the illness can be managed.

“He talks to schools. He talks to his soccer team. We have picnics where we have other Type 1s come. He’s like a natural advocate. He tells them what he does, and it’s not going to stop him. He is definitely my hero. I am super proud of him,” said his father, Andy.

This summer, Nicholas was Hawaii’s delegate at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Children’s Congress in Washington, D.C.

“I was able to speak with Mazie Hirono, Brian Schatz and Ed Case,” he said.

He told lawmakers about the need for more funding for diabetes research and urged them to do what they can to bring down the high cost of insulin.

“Some vials are $200 or $300. Just for a small vial,” he said.

Hawaii News Now first met Nicholas in 2017 when he was 7 and the first person in Hawaii to receive a Medtronic insulin pump.

He continues to use the devices that act like an artificial pancreas.

“I can tell when I’m low and that’s not fun. For me, it feels like when you get in a very cold room. You just have that feeling in the pit of your stomach,” he said.

The pumps monitor his blood sugar levels and make corrections when they’re too high or too low.

“It’s amazing when you have something that allows you to kind of live normally. That’s a very powerful statement,” his father said.

Nicholas said he’ll continue to share his story about living as a Type 1 diabetic so other young people who learn they have the disease can find hope in him.

“T1D is not fun. Hopefully, in the very near future there will be a cure,” he said.