Family grateful for the gift of hope from Riley Hospital

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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - The Christmas season serves as reminder to be grateful and encourages us to give.

The staff at Riley Hospital give their gifts all year in the way they treat and care for their young patients.

We spoke with a family who has a very personal connection to Riley in more ways than one.

The Summitt family loves playing games, whether it's against each other in video games or card games.

Josh Summitt, 13, says he's always winning. His favorite sport is basketball. And he's like most kids, except he's always taking measurements.

"After school we have like study tables, where we do our homework before basketball practice and I have to check my sugar, eat a snack, dose for that, stuff like that, Josh said. “And text my parents that I did it."

Josh was just 7 when he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. His mom Beth, a respiratory therapist in the NICU at Riley, never thought she'd see the other side of Riley as the mother of a patient.

"I was working, I was busy,” Beth said. “I was taking care of a really sick little patient and the nurse practitioner next to me said 'Beth, are you OK?' and I hadn't said anything to anyone because it was so stressful and I was so worried about it that it just wasn't something that I wanted to talk about with people and I said 'I don't think so. I think my son was just diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes."

She says there are a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions about Type 1 diabetes.

"There's nothing he can do with his diet to ever fix it, to ever change it, and there's nothing he did to ever cause it. And so, you get a lot of comments like 'oh, he ate too much sugar' or they watch him eating and say 'oh, he shouldn't have that, right?'"

"Teachers usually have a beginning of the year survey and I usually just say that, like in parentheses, like at the bottom, I'm like, I can have candy… without dying," Josh said.

The Summitts are in this fight together, facing it as a family. Beth says it's changed her as a person and as a clinician.

"I thought I was a compassionate person,” she said. “Thought I really had empathy for families, but when you're on the other side of that you are a whole other level."

That's why the Summits say Riley is so special. Beth loves working there, and Josh says the staff has been great to him in his 6 years as a patient.

"The people there, they're gonna help you out."

Riley Hospital needs your help to continue research to look for new and innovative treatments and cures for all sorts of ailments.

You can donate to the Riley Children's Foundation by simply going to www.RileyKids.Org.