Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

December 9, 2012

Lockport teacher's book raising diabetes awareness

BY JOE OLENICK
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Sharon Saraf’s first book has been published. It’s a topic close to home for the Lockport teacher, one that hopefully raises awareness for Type 1 diabetes.

Saraf’s “I Have Diabetes” is a children’s book about a young boy who becomes ill and is diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Her inspiration is easy to see, as Saraf has a 12-year-old son Cole who was diagnosed with diabetes at age 3. Saraf’s sister, Susan Brooks, has been dealing with Type 1 diabetes for over 35 years. The book is dedicated to both.

“I wanted to write a book for a very long time, I just didn’t know what I would write about,” Saraf said. “Then I had the idea of combining two passions, wanting to write the book and all of the fundraising my family and I do.”

And writing about diabetes helps connect those who are dealing with the life-long disease.

“The reason I wrote about diabetes is two-fold. I wanted to have a story about my son’s situation, but I also hope the book will reach a lot of people across the country who have family members, particularly children, who have been diagnosed,” Saraf said. “It’s a way for all of us to embrace it, even though it’s a life sentence. For people to find comfort in it, knowing you can live a good life with constant management.”

Saraf, a second-grade teacher at Washington Hunt, asked Mark Kwoka, an art teacher at North Park Junior High, to do the illustrations for the book. The 28-page book features a cover with a baseball glove and a glucometer.

“It shows, hey I have diabetes but I can do whatever I want to do,” Saraf said.

Kwoka said children with diabetes is something that isn’t talked about. Raising a child is hard enough without a life long disease. 

According to the National Institutes of Health, an estimated 850,000 to 1.7 million Americans have Type 1 diabetes. Of those, about 125,000 are kids 19 and under. An additional 30,000 Americans develop Type 1 diabetes every year, 13,000 of whom are children.

“You just don’t hear about children being afflicted,” he said.

The Saraf family has done a number of fundraisers for diabetes awareness. Every year the family hosts a golf tournament at Willowbrook and works with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Saraf has also reached out to some celebrities who deal with diabetes, such as Bret Michaels and Ray Allen, whose son was diagnosed.

A portion of the proceeds from Saraf’s book will go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Putting the book together was a year-long process, starting with Saraf’s New Year’s resolution to write a book. The next step for Saraf and Kwoka is to promote the book. Author House is the publishing firm.

“It’s a quite an involved process, there was a lot to research,” Saraf said.

Being an author is something Saraf has wanted to do for some time, something she has dreamed of since her childhood. Now, with her children older, Saraf has time to pursue a writing career. And that means more books are on the way.

“We have some other ideas we are kicking around,” Saraf said. “Now that we are over the hump and having gone through the process, hopefully it’ll be easier.”

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241.