Pump Girls

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The Pump Girls were a musical group founded in 1998 by four girls who met while attending a camp for children with diabetes:[1]

  • Brittany Rausch (1998-2005)
  • Colleen Cottrell (1998-2000)
  • Sara Cronstadt (1998-2000)
  • Janelle Munion (1998-1999)

All of the group's original members, and all but one of the subsequent members, were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The name of the group comes from a type of portable insulin pump which the girls would wear to help them manage the diabetes more easily. One of the goals of the group was to foster diabetes awareness and support by letting their peers see that they can still have a fun and active life while dealing with diabetes. Before early 1998, the members of the group were going through bouts of teen depression, caused by, among other things, their illness. That began to change when they decided to join as a group in February of that year. A few months later, they hired H. B. Barnum of Little Star Records to manage them. Barnum had already worked with performers such as Aretha Franklin, Puff Daddy and Barry White. Soon, the girls were able to release their first, self-named CD. Shortly after releasing the CD the group partnered with the Walt Disney Company to begin touring at various Disney parks and Radio Disney events.[2]

There have been a number of personnel changes over the years. The original incarnation of the group was to have included a fifth member, Jamie Khoury. Khory spent months rehearsing the songs and dance steps with the group, but she ultimately took the path to continue her education without the distraction of being in the group.[3] More recent Pump Girls have included:

  • Sarah Ann Carey (2000-2002, replaced Janelle Munion)[4]
  • Nicole Shiley Kukuruda (2000, replaced Sara Cronstadt & Colleen Cottrell)[5]
  • Debbie Lemus (2000-2005, replaced Nicole Shiley Kukuruda)[5]
  • Chelsea Unger (2002, replaced Sarah Ann Carey)[6]
  • Heather Faland (2003-2005 replaced Chelsea Unger)[7]

While Chelsea Unger was the only member of the group who didn't have diabetes herself, she was supportive of her father in dealing with his own diabetes for which he wore the portable insulin pump.

Pump Girls performing at Disneyland in California (2000)
Pump Girls at a walk for Diabetes

The Pump Girls have been featured on CNN,[2] ABC's World News Tonight with Peter Jennings,[8] and various other media outlets. Originally from California, the group has toured throughout the United States. The Pump Girls have performed at events sponsored by Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, American Diabetes Association,[9] American Association of Diabetes Educators, PADRE Foundation,[10] and have had exposure on Radio Disney and the Disney Channel.[2]

They have shared the stage with 1999 Miss America Nicole Johnson, who also has type 1 diabetes and is herself an advocate of diabetes awareness.[11] Johnson mentioned the group in her 2001 autobiography Living with Diabetes: "The Pump Girls, a group of talented teens from Southern California, met at camp and formed a singing group. They all are "pumpers" like me and they are a huge inspiration to youngsters with diabetes — and adults, too!" [12]

According to an archived version of the group's website (defunct as of 2010), the final event at which the group actively performed was the California School Nurses Annual Conference, Hollywood, February 2005.[13]

The Pump Girls could possibly be confused with an unrelated group of the same name, also known as "DZ's Pump Girls", a Chicago hip house dance club group with two vinyl LP singles in the 1980s.[14]

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