- Associated Press - Saturday, April 19, 2014

WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) - A Wilmington nurse is planning to scale Mount Kilimanjaro to raise awareness to a nonprofit searching for a cure for diabetes.

Thea Nunez will be the only American in a group of 20 people who all live with Type 1 diabetes. They’re scaling Africa’s tallest mountain in June to raise money and awareness for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, a nonprofit working to find a cure.

The 36-year-old Nunez works in the cardiac unit at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

Nunez was diagnosed with diabetes when she was 6. In middle school, she took three or four shots a day. Now, she wears an insulin pump, watches the carbohydrates she eats and avoids foods with glutens.

She said she will have to be just as vigilant during the climb up the 19,341-foot mountain.

“We’re going to be constantly checking blood sugar every one to two hours and adjust insulin rates to that,” says Nunez. “A lot of the symptoms of altitude sickness mimic hypoglycemia, when blood sugar drops, so we have to be careful about that as well.”

Nunez said she will give 80 percent of what she raises to help JDRF. She has already raised $3,000

“It’s the trip of a lifetime,” she said. “I think it’s worth it. I’ll be in debt for several years, but that’s all right.”

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