Leopold’s Vicky King has given so much to local basketball. Now, as JARROD POTTER discovers, the sport’s giving back in Vicky’s time of greatest need.
Leopold’s Vicky King has overcome many challenges in basketball, from playing against the state’s best for Geelong sides to managing her sport’s Bellarine Peninsula association.
But nothing prepared Vicky or her family for the challenge of her new daughter’s diagnosis with a rare life-threatening condition.
Now eight months old, Kensi was diagnosed in April with congenital hyperinsulinism (HI), which Vicky describes as “the opposite of diabetes”.
The illness makes the body create excessive levels of insulin, producing dangerous hypoglycaemic episodes.
It has forced the family to monitor Kensi constantly day and night with blood glucose checks every few hours to ensure she’s in, as Vicky calls it, the “safe zone”.
“We have to prick her finger every four hours on a good day, or every few hours on a bad day to monitor her insulin levels,” Vicky says.
“We can really be caught off guard with hyperglacaemic episodes.
“We just ensure that we’re avoiding the risk or the long-term potential for brain damage or developmental issues.
“Everyone’s brain needs glucose to work properly – and it’s definitely the case when you’re 11 months old and developing – so we can’t afford for her to be hyperglacaemic multiple times a day or week.
“It’s all about protecting her brain development and long-term health.”
The family’s greatest hope for monitoring Kensi’s condition is to obtain a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), so at a moment’s notice the family can check on her condition and also alert them when she reaches any dangerous levels.
Within weeks of putting up a crowd-funding page, Vicky was amazed at the wave of support from the community to raise funds for the machine.
The family is now on track to raise $12,000 to purchase the CGM. They plan to donate the rest to Congenital Hyperinsulinism Australasia foundation to improve the living standards of those who have the disease and hopefully to find a cure.
“That ($9465) is just what has come through the GoFundMe campaign and probably had another $3500 come directly to us,” Vicky says.
“Overwhelming doesn’t even describe it – it’s very humbling to think that there are that many people out there that want to help us.
“It’s mind-blowing how generous the community can be; there are a lot of horrible things out there, but with human nature it seems like people just want to help.
“It’s really comforting to know I’m surrounded by people out there that care this much.”
Some of the strongest support has come from Vicky’s long-time Lady Cats teammates, the young families she helps with her off-court work for the Bellarine basketball association and from numerous life-long friends made through sport.
“Basketball certainly wasn’t something I did as a kid, but something that became a very large part of my life in the last 10 to 15 years,” she says.
“I wouldn’t take anything away from my involvement in netball prior to basketball. It has definitely led me to some lifelong friendships, not to say netball didn’t, but most of my close friends are from those basketball relationships.
“Sometimes, I like to think I’ve given as much to the sport as it’s given to me.
“I consider myself really lucky to have played BIG V for nearly 10 years. Some of those years were a number factor, being the number 10 or 12, while other years I played a bit more of a role.
“I’m fortunate to have played in two championships and played with some impressive players and, more importantly, been around some impressive people.
“Scrolling through the list of people who have donated, there are some decent basketball names among those.”
The Bellarine association has granted Vicky as much time as she needs away from her manager role to care for Kensi.
After eight and a half years’ service to the Bellarine Storm basketball community, the association supported her the way she’s always supported everyone else.
“We’ve received $1500 from the association, and they’ve been incredibly understanding of where I’ve been at, as to not being there, and some aspects of my job have fallen by the wayside in the last month.”
Vicky wants to raise awareness of HI to make dealing with it easier for the next family afflicted by the disease.
She wants the community to understand her daughter’s plight and how it affects the family on a daily basis.
“We’re not trying to push a sob story; it’s about raising awareness,” Vicky says.
“When you talk about blood sugar, everyone thinks it’s diabetes, and I wouldn’t take anything away from a type 1 diabetes patient, but our daughter very much has a life-threatening condition that if we don’t control it’s something you don’t want to think about.
“This is a condition the doctors don’t know much about, and it’s even more difficult going to Centrelink and other organisations for help as it’s not on the list of recognised conditions.
“If I don’t manage my daughter’s condition, she won’t survive, it’s as simple as that, so we want to raise awareness about HI.”
Anyone wanting to help Vicky and her family with a donation can visit gofundme.com/kenisking.