Eau Claire (WQOW) - Learning someone you love has a disease like diabetes is never easy, especially when it happens to a child.
During 10 year-old Katie Rhoten's first trip to Disney World she was rushed to the emergency room. Now, a year later, she's managing her diabetes and helping others in similar situations.
Katie's mom Kristin says her daughter began feeling sick on the third day of their dream vacation.
"We had the doctors come to our hotel room they said she had the flu, then a couple days later they said she had strep," she says.
After she continued to get worse, her family rushed her to the hospital where doctors made an immediate diagnosis. Katie has type one diabetes.
Kristin says, "It was the worst thing to have to see her so sick in a hospital and it nearly killed me I think the first time I had to give her her insulin shot, that was terrible."
Every time Katie got a shot, she also got a toy.
Katie says, "When I was in the hospital I was really scared and lonely and when I got a stuffed animal I was really happy and I wasn't scared anymore."
Then, with all the chaos going on, she made a decision.
She says, "When I was in the ICU I got my first animal and I told my mom I wanted to give back because people gave to me."
After months of collecting stuffed animals, games and other fun things, Katie and her family dropped off six boxes of toys at Luther Midelfort in Eau claire.
Katie's donations will now go to other children, like she was one year ago, scared, and looking for comfort.
"I hope they're happy and they're not as scared," Katie says.
She now wears an insulin pump and is getting used to managing her diabetes. She has simple advice for anyone who is living with diabetes, "Not to worry about it just to take to take care of yourself and you'll be fine."
She is also becoming an advocate for diabetes awareness.
In June she and her mom will head to Washington, D.C. to be part of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's Kids Congress. There, she will go before members of congress to testify about the need for continued funding for type one diabetes research.