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Manitoba girl touted as diabetic warrior in towering Times Square ad

The Boyachek family is pictured in Times Square on Nov. 14, 2023 in front of Hayley's photo for Dexcom's #SeeDiabetes: The Faces of Diabetes Warriors campaign. (Source: Boyarchek family) The Boyachek family is pictured in Times Square on Nov. 14, 2023 in front of Hayley's photo for Dexcom's #SeeDiabetes: The Faces of Diabetes Warriors campaign. (Source: Boyarchek family)

A nine-year-old girl from Elm Creek, Man. saw her picture displayed on 10,000 square feet of the world’s priciest advertising real estate.

“It was just so big, grand. I thought it was really cool to see my picture there,” Hayley Boyachek told CTV News Winnipeg by phone on Thursday, fresh off the plane from New York.

The opportunity came about through Dexcom, a company that manufactures the continuous glucose monitor that Hayley wears every day on her arm to monitor her blood glucose levels.

Hayley lives with Type 1 diabetes. She was diagnosed at three years old.

Her mother Heidi remembers it as a very scary time. Hayley had lost weight, and was drinking and urinating frequently.

When her condition was discovered in December 2017, her health had deteriorated.

“Hayley was in severe diabetic ketoacidosis when she was diagnosed, so she was to the point where she was very close to being in a coma,” she said.

“Her memories of that event, thankfully, are mostly gone. Ours are not, unfortunately.”

Hayley Boyachek is shown in a photo for Dexcom's #SeeDiabetes: The Faces of Diabetes Warriors campaign. (Source: Fernando Sippel)

Today, Hayley is thriving, though she and her family must be very diligent about monitoring her blood levels and ensuring she gets the right amount of insulin.

It is her bravery living with diabetes that earned her not one, but two trips to New York.

Dexcom invited Hayley to New York to be a part of their ad campaign featuring diabetic warriors from around North America.

“It was highlighting the many faces of diabetes, so they wanted to bring awareness and show that diabetes isn't everything people think, and we showed all the different emotions that are involved in it,” Heidi said.

“It was just like really cool. I felt like I could express myself,” Hayley recalled.

Their brush with the spotlight didn’t end there.

The family was invited back to New York this week in honour of World Diabetes Day, which fell on Tuesday. They marked the occasion by ringing the NASDAQ bell flanked by throngs of people, including legendary singer Patti LaBelle, who lives with Type 2 diabetes. Afterward, they headed outside to see the campaign displayed on a massive billboard in Times Square, including Hayley’s picture.

“It was kind of weird to see myself,” Hayley said.

“The little girl from Elm Creek up in New York City,” Heidi added.

While the experience was surreal, Hayley hopes the campaign will help change perceptions of the chronic disease she lives with every day.

“It's not something that's easy. It's a challenge, but then once you get used to it, it gets easier. It gets better.”

Mother and daughter Heidi and Hayley Boyachek were photographed for a Dexcom campaign to highlight the many faces of diabetes. The images were unveiled in Times Square to mark National Diabetes Awareness Month. (Source: Fernando Sippel) Top Stories


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