Morgan Panzirer was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) on March 23, 2007, just weeks after her sixth birthday. The surprising news came as a shock to her mother and father since diabetes did not run in their families. T1D, a condition in which the body attacks and kills its own insulin-producing cells, is a life-altering autoimmune disease that affects at least 18 million people worldwide. It cannot be prevented nor does it have a cure.

Like all people with T1D patients, young Morgan soon became accustomed to pricking her finger 10 to 12 times a day to monitor her glucose levels and handling multiple insulin injections daily. Although Morgan’s adjustment to living with T1D was very painful at first, she never allowed T1D to define who she was and what she wanted to do. She quickly became an inspiration to her parents and siblings.

Now a freshman in high school and a straight A student, 15-year-old Morgan serves on the school governance committee. She is also a nationally-ranked equestrian.. Looking at Morgan today, you would never know she lives with a chronic disease unless you saw her insulin pump or continuous glucose monitor —which she does not try to hide. Morgan is an advocate in the fight to find a cure for T1D, advance better treatments and improve the quality of life for all those suffering from diabetes.

Morgan embodies strength, determination and grace as she balances living with T1D with all of life’s other activities. And she does it all with a smile on her face.