It was December 2022 and Erik and Wendi Ramirez and their two daughters, Emma and Elena, were traveling from Corning to Chico to celebrate Emma’s 7th birthday. The family looked at Christmas lights and went to a trampoline park. It had been a fun day, but something just wasn’t right.

Their daughter, Elena, who was 9 at the time, needed frequent bathroom breaks. It was unlike her, and the past few days, Erik and Wendi had also noticed changes in Elena’s behavior. She was lethargic and had no interest in watching soccer, her favorite sport. Both were concerned.

A type 1 diabetic himself, Erik knew the signs, which often start suddenly.

Elena Ramirez and her dad.

“I told my wife we needed to check her blood sugar when we got home,” Erik said. “I didn’t want to believe that it could be diabetes, but I wanted to rule it out.”

Elena couldn’t even make the 30-minute trip without stopping. The family pulled over at Woodson Bridge State Recreation Area, a spot all too familiar to Erik, so Elena could use the restroom.

Erik had stopped at the same place when he was a 10-year-old kid. It was the same situation. He had not been feeling well. He had to use the restroom more often. Eventually, he couldn’t walk. It was on their way to the emergency room in Chico that his parents stopped at the bridge so he could use the restroom.

“Every time I cross that bridge, I think of that day,” Erik recalled. “I was so confused at the time and now, here I was with my own daughter in the same place.”

“Erik was losing his mind,” recounted Wendi. “We were both so nervous.”

When Erik went to the hospital 24 years earlier, he was life flighted to UC Davis Children’s Hospital. He worried Elena’s fate would be the same.

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