By Tom Nader
Ravenna Record Courier
BEREA, OHIO -- Sitting in a doctor's office inside Children's Hospital was a 14-year-old Tyler Lohr.
The date was April 1, 2005, and he had just been diagnosed with type 1 juvenile diabetes.
He looked straight into the eyes of his mother and said, "I will play high school football, and I will play college football. I will do whatever I have to do in order to make it happen."
For Lohr, who was just an eighth grader at the time, it was not time to feel sorry for himself.
Instead, he took the challenge in stride and decided to fight against it with a positive attitude.
He became more focused, more determined. And he not only met his goal of playing football in high school, he became a star at Kent Roosevelt.
He was named First Team All-Metro Division and Second Team All-Northeast Inland District, while also tying a school record with seven interceptions in 2006.
The special Friday nights on the gridiron, along with his perseverance in the classroom, opened the opportunity for Lohr to continue his football and academic careers at Baldwin-Wallace College, where he is majoring in special education and is in his sophomore season on the football team, splitting time between junior varsity and varsity.
Most people, though, probably think that Lohr simply grabs his helmet on gameday and runs out on the field. His story is so much more than that and is so much more inspiring than that.
Much of it started with Lohr taking responsibility for himself.
"My mom and family have been there for me from the time I was diagnosed, but really after the first year, it has been simple to take care of," said Lohr, who is a 5-foot-8, 195-pound running back for the Yellow Jackets. "Still, my family has been amazing. My coaches, too, who were there for me if I needed them, but they knew it was my responsibility. They left it up to me."
Lohr's commitment has included four shots of insulin each day for the last five years. He takes a shot at breakfast, one at lunch, another at dinner and his last is just before he goes to bed.
By changing his diet, Lohr has also been forced to monitor his sugar intake, which he said has made him a healthier person because he 'eliminated a large amount of sugar and junk food from his daily diet."
"Diabetes can effect my performance if I don't stay on top of it by taking the correct amounts of insulin or if I don't check my blood sugar," Lohr said.
High blood sugar can cause Lohr to cramp quicker, get headaches easily or deteriorate his vision. If the blood sugar is too low, it can make him shake and sap the energy right out of his body.
Finding the middle-level is what Lohr's mind is always focused on.
The food aspect of dealing with his diabetes was necessary for him to survive, but it is what Lohr chose to do on his own in the weight room that made the difference.
With Kent Roosevelt High School strength and conditioning coach Kevin Hockett taking Lohr under his wing, Lohr was able to establish a program to get stronger. "Coach Hock was always the one coach I could talk to because he knew exactly what I was going through,"Lohr said, referencing the fact that Hockett also had type 1 juvenile diabetes. "He would talk to me about my lifting, football and diet."
It was all of those long, grueling weight room sessions that Lohr's mother Linda said she fully believes allowed her son to excel on the gridiron.
"If it wasn't for his dedication in the weight room and his attitude toward diabetes, there is no way he would be able to do what he does," Linda Lohr said.
Five years since being diagnosed, Lohr is still on his original insulin dose.
He is still playing football and still has a future that he refuses to let his diabetes interfere with.
"Diabetes hasn't changed anything about my life," Lohr said. "I still do everything the same. If anything, diabetes has made me a healthier person."
Lohr speaks about his diabetes almost as if it is not there.
From a mother's standpoint, the picture is a bit different.
"Diabetes has changed all our lives," Linda Lohr said.
"But Tyler is a good example for young adults who face such adversity, but do not give up on their dreams," Linda Lohr said. "He never gave up on his dream of playing college football."
The 14-year-old boy who once sat in a doctor's office is now living his dream.
"Diabetes will not control me, I am going to control it," he says.
With that mindset, Lohr also controls his future and will not allow anything to get in its way.
To contact Tom Nader at firstname.lastname@example.org
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