Imagining Life Diabetes-Free

Parish Episcopal School student Mallory Richards can’t describe how a life without diabetes would feel, but theater helps her imagine it.

“[Theater] has always been an outlet for me when having a tough day with my diabetes. [It allows] me to become a completely different person — a person without diabetes,” she said.

Richards has been involved in theater for seven years, since the fifth grade, and has lived with diabetes even longer. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes (T1D) at the age of 6.

“I was scared and had no idea what was happening with my body, but … the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) was there to help my family and me through all of it,” she said.

Unlike Type 2 diabetes, Type 1 usually develops at a young age and the exact cause is unknown.

“It has nothing to do with what I eat or how much I exercise,” Richards said. “A part of my body just stopped working.”

In December, Richards’ passion for theater and her struggle with diabetes came together when she directed and choreographed the fifth annual Parish Family Performs, raising money for diabetes awareness and research.

Each year, a junior from Parish is chosen to lead the show, a Broadway-style revue featuring singing, dancing, and acting performances by parents, faculty, staff, and alumni.

Teachers and parents took direction from a teenager well, Richards said. “They were really attentive and actually listened to me, but we also laughed a lot and had tons of fun.”

Proceeds from the performances go to the director’s organization of choice.

When it came time to choose an organization that would benefit from her school community service project, she knew at once it would be JDRF.

Drawing a full crowd to the school’s 120-seat Black Box Theater on Dec. 8 and 9, the performances
raised more than $4,000 for the JDRF Dallas Chapter.

“I love seeing everyone in the Parish community come together and help raise awareness for something that means so much to me,” Richards said.

People forget that living with diabetes is 24/7, she said. Although Richards makes time management, taking care of herself, and having patience look easy, it is work.

She said her mom equates living with diabetes to being “like a duck on a pond: it looks graceful and calm just swimming along, but below the surface, you don’t see the paddling, and all the work it’s doing to keep moving forward.”

Richards stays busy. In addition to theater, the 11th grader is a cheerleader, student government member, and ambassador for the school.

With directing experience under her belt, Richards is looking forward to continuing acting after she graduates from Parish.

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