When Serena Berrey hits a golf ball down the fairway, its trajectory is as long and straight as her own struggle to overcome Type One Juvenile Diabetes. Serena is a senior at Father Tolton Catholic High School in Columbia.
“In fifth grade, I was presented with devastating news. I was told I would no longer be able to live as I once had,” Serena wrote in her essay. “From there, I promised to never let the chronic illness define who I am: I would only let it motivate me to be a better version of myself.”
With a full ride golf/academic scholarship in hand to attend Drury University next fall, Serena hopes to major in communications so she can become a motivational speaker or an advocate for people with diabetes.
She started in 2012 in Kirksville, setting up an annual 5k run/walk to raise money for Type One Juvenile Diabetes. The event became more of a privilege than work, she said. “I go and speak to businesses to get sponsorships for the race. I also contact people in the community to see if they are interested in contributing… I hope I can be the influential inspiration to other people with Type One Diabetes and the reason they don’t give up on their battle because they’re the reason I keep fighting mine.”
The most rewarding activity, according to Serena, is talking to young children with Type One Juvenile Diabetes at the event and becoming inspired by them. “I love seeing them running down the home stretch with their insulin pumps bouncing up and down on their hips with smiles on their faces because I know everything is going to be okay. For that day, they take ownership for their disease and are proud of what they have overcome.”
Serena is basketball captain, golf captain, president of student council, president of National Honor Society, secretary of Tri-M Music Club, a choir section leader, liturgical reader and singer, and a volunteer at Candlelight Lodge and Columbia Food Bank. She also attended the Chik-Fil-A Leadership Academy and sings the national anthem at sporting events.
Serena is the daughter of Jim and Deana Berrey of Columbia.