Franklin family raises awareness &
money for juvenile diabetes research

Wanda English Burnett, Editor

When Tony and Leann Franklin found out they were expecting their first child, they would soon receive the news they were having not one, but two boys! Their pleasure was doubled as their new family was formed. On February 27, 2003 Tanner and Trenton made the Franklin’s family number come to four! Learning to parent the twins was a new adventure for the young couple, keeping them both busy.

Then just eleven days before the identical twins reached their first birthday, another twist came to the young parents.

“Trenton just didn’t feel good,” began Leann, remembering exactly how her son behaved. “He was just lying around, sort of whining.” As any good parents would do, she took him for immediate medical care. She agreed at that age they can’t really tell you where it hurts, but you know something is wrong. Trenton was diagnosed with strep, but something more troubling was going on. His blood sugar count was 1000 (normal is between 80-120).

Then following suit, as twins often do, Tanner became ill with a yeast infection. The next diagnosis changed the Franklin family’s way of life forever. Both twins had juvenile diabetes mellitus or more commonly known as Type I diabetes. This is a chronic disease caused by the inability of the pancreas to produce insulin or the body inappropriately uses the insulin it does produce.

Tony and Leann were thrust into the world of constant monitoring, checking their sons’ blood sugar levels many times throughout the day and night, and reacting to their needs accordingly.

The boys turned four this past February and if you didn’t know their history, you couldn’t guess they are diabetic. Their rosy little cheeks match their fiery red hair and blue eyes twinkle with mischief. They do not seem to have a care in the world. For their parents, their care is top priority. They get their little fingers poked 6-8 times daily and each take four shots.
“It changes the way we do things,” admitted Tony, as his son leans on him at their home in Dabney. Nothing is simple. When going to the grocery, the Franklins have to make sure they have everything to meet their son’s medical needs. “We always pack a bag with meds, finger sticks, snacks, and more,” laughed Leann.

The last weekend of May, the family took part in a walk at Holiday World to raise funds for juvenile diabetes research. “We hope they’ll find a cure soon,” they echoed.
Trenton and Tanner walked with their team and raised about $400 for the event. “We did it in about a week,” noted Leann, who said she went online to find out the event was sooner than she thought. “We wanted to be a part of it and set out cans to collect money.” Now they’re preparing for next year.

Knowing the long term effects of the disease such as damage to the eyes, blood vessels, nerves and kidneys, the Franklins joined others at Holiday World to help raise $228,000. There were 1300 walkers participating in the second annual event. “It was neat to watch everyone checking their blood sugars,” commented Leann, who said lots of children with the disease took part in the walk. “Our boys were probably about the youngest,” she said.

Medical personnel from Riley Hospital, Indianapolis, were on hand to check blood sugars and provide a free lunch. This is the hospital that provides care for the Franklin twins.
Trenton and Tanner wore shirts that read: “In the past 3 1/2 years I have had 4,712 shots, 7,068 finger pokes and I’m still tooooo sweet.”

The Franklin family’s life revolves around the disease their sons now live with. “Everything’s on a schedule,” they agreed, saying, “It’s not stopping us. It’s a disease you can live with.” Leann became tearful as she said they feel blessed when they go to Riley Hospital and see all the children who have terminal diseases.

Their lives are changed, just as nearly 1.4 million others who face Type I diabetes. Their sons’ medical needs run about $3,000 monthly and they are thankful it’s covered by insurance until they’re 21 years old.

Both Tony and Leann keep vigilant watch on their sons checking them throughout the day and yes, even the night. “The nighttime is our worst fear,” Tony admitted. Due to the long period of time while they sleep their blood sugar levels could dip dangerously low. “We’ve found out that peanut butter is a good bedtime snack.” These are the kinds of things they’d like to discuss with other local parents and perhaps get a local support group going.

Another big challenge for the couple is childcare. “You can’t just leave them with anybody,” Tony said. Tony works days, has about five minutes with his wife for an update of the day’s activities before she leaves for her evening shift. They share childcare responsibilities with each other and also care for their 10-month-old daughter, Lila, who has the same sparkling blue eyes and beautiful red hair. Will she also have diabetes? The couple won’t know for two more months when she’ll be eligible to be tested.

Maternal grandparents are Roy and Darla Brown of Butlerville. Paternal grandmother is Denise Biddinger of Greensburg and Kenny Franklin of Holton.

The Franklins are interested in meeting others in the area who are parenting children with diabetes. You can contact them are 812-689-6885 or email:

Trenton and Tanner Franklin, identical twin sons of Tony and Leann Franklin of Holton, enjoyed seeing Santa Claus early this year when they visited Holiday World to participate in a walk to help find a cure for diabetes, a disease they both have.