Mother gets best birthday present ever

Wanda English Burnett

Giving birth to twin boys was one of the greatest achievements in the life of Leann Franklin of Holton. That was six years ago. The journey of getting them to kindergarten was another monumental achievement.

The twins, Trenton and Tanner, were diagnosed with diabetes just eleven days before their first birthday. This event changed the lives of their parents, Leann and Tony, forever.
The young parents monitored their twins’ every move consuming every moment they had until last June 11, when the boys got their Animas Insulin Pumps. It was Leann’s birthday and she said, “the pumps were the best birthday present ever.”

The pumps changed the way of life for the Franklin family, especially the two it more directly affected, Trenton and Tanner. No longer do they have to get four shots a day. Now it’s only the equivalent to one shot every three days, when the extra, extra fine needle is inserted into their bellies. A small tube runs from the pump, which they wear around their middles much like a cell phone, into the needle and automatically releases insulin every three minutes.

The boys are matter of fact about their pumps. They wear them around their middles with little stylish pouches that range from Sponge-Bob Square Pants to camouflage. The pouches were made by their aunt, Rhonda Carter, who is in the military now. The pumps are waterproof, which is a good thing since they’ve already had to replace one, according to Leann. The Franklins' insurance will pay for a pump for each of the boys every four years and as they are $7,000 apiece, Tony says they’ve got to last for at least four years!

The Franklins explained the pumps are high tech and calibrate the twins’ needs for insulin according to what they’re doing. And they’re doing a lot. “They’re 100% boy!” Leann noted. And that’s how she wants it to be. “I don’t want them to be different from anyone else,” Leann said.

The pumps have allowed them to jump on the trampoline, wrestle, and run and play like any other child their age without the fear of a diabetic reaction that could literally take their lives.

When first diagnosed, it might have been an overwhelming task for some. But, Leann said she never thought twice about what they had to do. “We just did it,” both Tony and Leann agreed.

While the pumps have alleviated a lot of stress for the parents, they still know the boys must be monitored. Leann said, “Whatever we do now will affect their future health.” She noted that uncontrolled diabetes affects major organs and most every part of the body.

Their first year of school was another hurdle they have almost successfully completed. “The nurse is the greatest, I don’t know what I would do without her,” Leann shared of South Ripley Elementary School Nurse Mary Krumm. “She calls me everyday and gives a report on their blood sugar,” she noted.

The nurse, and teacher, Ann Dicken, has joined forces with the Franklin parents to ensure their boys have the best care possible. The nurse knows the blood sugar count can even affect their ride home from school. Some days they ride to a babysitter’s, making the commute about 20 minutes longer than when they ride home. That 20 minutes could make a difference if they are running low on insulin, according to their mother. So, the nurse will give them a snack if they are at a certain level.

The teacher watches the snacks and treats they get at school, too. Trenton and Tanner also know what they can have, according to their mother.

While the pumps have changed their lives dramatically, they still take an extra amount of care than children without diabetes. They still have to measure all their food, take into consideration their caloric intake and output and get their little fingers poked six to 10 times a day.

The Franklins also have another child, a little girl, Lila, who will be three in July. So far so good - she shows no signs of having diabetes, according to Leann. The parents still have her tested as suggested by pediatricians.

Saying their lives revolve around the boys and their diabetes, the Franklin family are strong advocates to find a cure for diabetes. They will be participating in their third diabetes walk next weekend at Holiday World. They have raised over $600. The money is to raise awareness about juvenile or Type I diabetes and hopefully someday find a cure. You can go online to learn more about their efforts or make a donation at:, click on team TNT. You can also send a check directly to the Franklins at: 1852 N County Rd. 850 W., Holton, IN 47023.

The Franklins are a busy family with both parents working outside the home and Tony being the Fire Chief of the Holton Volunteer Fire Department. But, nothing stops them when taking extra time to care for their children or help others cope with having a child with diabetes. They belong to a support group that meets at Greensburg and are willing to talk about their experience in hopes of helping other parents who are coping with the same issues.

It's a family affair for the Franklins of Holton as they work together to bring awareness and find a cure for Type I or juvenile diabetes. Twin sons, Trenton and Tanner, pictured atop the play set both were diagnosed just 11 days before their first birthday. Their dad, Tony, left and mother Leann, right, says their whole world changed with that diagnosis. So far, little sister, Lila, 3, pictured in the center, has dodged the disease.

Pictured are identical twins, Tanner, left, and Trenton Franklin, age 6, of Holton. They are showing off their insulin pumps they received last June 11, on their mother's birthday. She said it was "the best birthday present ever." This little gadget has changed the way the Franklins live.