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Teen Donates Toys, Raises Childhood Diabetes Awareness

​An Eau Claire teenager diagnosed years ago with Type 1 diabetes knows what it’s like to spend time in the hospital.

That experience led 14-year-old Katie Rhoten to help others. Her annual toy drive makes doctor visits and hospital stays a little brighter for children in the Chippewa Valley.

Rhoten will visit Marshfield Clinic Chippewa Falls Center on Friday to deliver about 400 toys for pediatric patients. She will make her formal presentation at 4 p.m., near the main entrance of the Clinic, 2655 Highway I, Chippewa Falls.

Rhoten launched “Katharine’s Wish” after her trip five years ago to Disney World took an unexpected turn. Rushed to an Orlando hospital where she endured days of test in the intensive care unit, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Rhoten was on the edge of entering a diabetic coma.

She recovered, but one aspect of the hospital experience stayed with her. Each time she was given a shot, or underwent a procedure, she received a stuffed animal to ease the pain. Those acts of kindness inspired her annual toy drives.

To date, Rhoten has raised $25,000 and donated thousands of toys toward what she hopes will one day be a cure for diabetes.

Marshfield Clinic Chippewa Falls Administrator Lisa Bruhn said her staff is excited to meet Rhoten, and they’ll work hard to find worthy recipients for the toys. The Chippewa Falls Center has one of the largest pediatric departments in the area.

The Marshfield Clinic system provides patient care, research and education with more than 50 locations in northern, central and western Wisconsin, making it one of the largest comprehensive medical systems in the United States.