2011 National Youth Advocate Madi Dodge
Madison "Madi" Dodge was our 2011 National Youth Advocate.
Madi was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was five years old. Madi has been an active volunteer with the Association for the last 10 years. She’s participated in the Association’s Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes. She organizes numerous local Association fundraisers throughout the year- Skate 4 a Cure, Dance 4 Diabetes, raffles and selling handmade journals.
As the Association’s National Youth Advocate, she spent the year promoting the Association’s advocacy initiatives and reaching out to children and adults, encouraging them to become involved in the fight to stop diabetes. She also met with elected officials and encourage them to increase funding for diabetes research and prevention, ensure people with diabetes have access to quality and affordable health care, and make sure people with diabetes are not discriminated against in school or in the workplace.
- Age: 15
- Location: Milford, DE
- Favorite After-School Activity: Theater
Madi Dodge's Blog
My Time as National Youth Advocate
This is the last chance that I’ll have to write to you, as my year as National Youth Advocate is officially over. I have had the absolute greatest year of my life, and I am so sad to see it go.
I have accomplished so much in the past year, and I am so honored to have done all the things I have. My work stretched literally from coast to coast, and though it was a lot of work, I have never once regretted any of it. I got the chance to see exciting new cities, meet tons of new people working to Stop Diabetes, ensure that children across the US were Safe at School, spread the contagious yearn to Stop Diabetes, and much, much more.
I honestly don’t think there are enough words in the English language to explain how phenomenal my year has been. I can’t think of a better cause to have devoted my time and energy to, and I know that if we all stay on board and work to Stop Diabetes, our cure will come someday. And soon! Researchers are working with the money we have raised, and they are working to develop a cure right this minute.
All year long, we have worked to find new advocates, and I can trust that they are going to work diligently for the cause. I can’t believe how lucky I am to have played a part in something so huge, so important, and so unstoppable. I’m proud to say that this year, I stood up with my left hand raised and said “I’m Madi Dodge, and I want to Stop Diabetes!”
Passing the Torch
I guess now it’s time for me to pass off the torch. To our new NYA, Logan Gregory, I wish you the very best of luck. Treasure every moment that you spend advocating for the cause. Speak out with all of your might, and most of all, enjoy every minute of it. I hope that you take out of this experience everything that I did and more! You’re going to have the time of your life, and I can’t wait to see all the exciting things you will do!
To the rest of our advocates out there: Never stop fighting. I may not be the NYA anymore, but I will be there, advocating alongside of you. Our cure is coming, but we have to keep working until it’s here. I’m proud of you all!
Spoken by one of my personal heroes, “We can’t stop, and we won’t stop, until we Stop Diabetes!”
Thanks for listening! Happy New Year!
Madi Dodge ♥
December 20, 2011
I spent last weekend in Washington DC with my American Diabetes Assocation family!
We attended the National Committee Meetings in DC, where the committees of the Association met to give end-of-the-year reports and to talk about applying the strategic plan to the goals of the committees for the next year.
When we arrived at the Gaylord Hotel, the first order of business was to attend the reception. I got to talk to some of my favorite Association friends (and meet new friends, too!) while enjoying a great reception in a great location.
I hadn’t seen many of my friends since Scientific Sessions and the Community Volunteer Leadership Conference in June, so it sure was wonderful to talk to everyone again.
The next morning, we had a very early start to our very eventful day. We gathered for a briefing and breakfast before we went off to begin meetings.
I served on two committees, Youth Strategies and Advocacy. It was so inspiring to hear reports from each of these committees… reports of all of the wonderful things that were accomplished to help improve the lives of people with diabetes. It has been an awesome year all around!
Summing It Up
In the Advocacy meeting, I got to talk about my year as National Youth Advocate…in under five minutes! I gotta’ say… it was pretty difficult, but it was fun!
I have had such an eventful year, I have no idea how I summed it all up like that. I could talk for hours and hours about my experiences this year and still not describe it all!
My blood sugar was over 500 when I spoke though and it made it a bit more difficult to find the right words but you all understand all about that. I took my bolus insulin and it started to come down so I felt much better by the end of the afternoon.
I have had such an exciting year! However….this is not my goodbye blog entry, and I am so not ready to say goodbye!
So, until next time,
November 22, 2011
What will you do to Stop Diabetes?
I wanted to tell you all about an absolutely incredible experience that I had on Monday night! I was invited to be the red carpet correspondent at the Friar’s Club in New York City for a dinner to pay tribute to American broadcasting legend, Larry King!
I travelled to New York and went right to the Sheraton. It was so cool! I got to meet some friends from the Association who I had fun working with on the Larry King interview from a few weeks ago, AND - get this - there was a “groomer” there to do my hair and makeup!!!! At first I was just a bit offended when they told me there would be a groomer… because we take our dog, Blizzard, to the groomer… but once it was explained that is just what they call it in “the business,” I was thrilled!
Actually, I was thrilled the whole time! Masha, the “groomer,” was great at making me look and feel beautiful! I asked her if she could come to Delaware to help me get ready for school every day, and she did not seem thrilled with the prospect, but she was so great!
After I got ready the camera man, Brent, showed me where the red carpet was, and we scoped out all of the logistics. Then, the real fun began! We taped the introduction, and then I took my spot next to the red carpet… nestled in there right next to the cameraman/ reporter from Entertainment Tonight! I felt pretty important and specialJ. Not only did I get to see Larry King, but I even got to see Larry Hausner, CEO of the American Diabetes Association, and I got to meet his beautiful daughter, Nina! I was delighted to spend time with John Griffin, Chair of the Board of the American Diabetes Association!
The stars really were out in New York City! As each star came down the red carpet, I had the opportunity to ask them questions about Larry King, about diabetes, about what they could do to Stop Diabetes, as well as many other questions! I had a blast! I got to speak to Larry King, who has very strong feelings about the need to find a cure for diabetes. He has type 2 diabetes, knows its dangers, and is well aware of how diabetes negatively affects heart health. He describes diabetes as a heart attack about to happen. The work that his Cardiac Foundation is doing to help spread awareness during American Diabetes Month is phenomenal - and so is Larry King!
Some of the other stars I got to interview were Shawn King (Larry’s wife and a great singer); American stand-up comedian, Colin Quinn; financial advisor and television host, Suze Orman; boxing promoter, Don King; journalist and CNN reporter, Wolf Blitzer; news correspondent and author, Katie Couric; actress, comedian and television personality, Kathy Griffith; Landau Murphy, winner of America’s Got Talent; and legendary actress, Joan Rivers! Although I did not get to interview them, I also had the pleasure of seeing Matthew Broderick, Wanda Sykes, Regis Philbin, Judge Judy, Judge Jerry and Donald Trump!
It was great to speak to all of these famous people and to see that everyone, everywhere has some tie to diabetes. Whether they have it themselves, have a relative that is diagnosed, know a friend who is battling it, or know someone who died from the complications… everyone is affected by diabetes. Diabetes is not discriminating…. it affects the young, the old, the rich, the poor, those who are black, white or purple… everyone- even the stars!
Please click on this link and see this video from the Red Carpet! Please share it with your friends! Let’s get the message out. Let’s Stop Diabetes!
Until Next Time,
November 10, 2011
I want to tell you about a VERY exciting experience I have had recently! As many of you may know, November is American Diabetes Month. This means that, for an entire month, diabetes advocates across the nation will be spreading awareness about the growing epidemic that is diabetes.
Larry King Interview
In honor of American Diabetes Month, I travelled to Bristol, Connecticut to visit the ESPN Campus, where I worked on a segment that Larry King is making to raise awareness for the American Diabetes Association and for diabetes. You can view the segment by clicking here! I was interviewed by Larry King through an audio earpiece, and it was inspiring to speak to him!
He asked questions about my involvement with the American Diabetes Association, my life as a teenager with diabetes, how technologies have changed in my ten years with diabetes, and why I want to Stop Diabetes. He had wonderful questions that really made me think about my commitment to the Association and the fight to Stop Diabetes, and I got the chance to look back at the past ten years, and how my life has improved because of the technological advances.
After Larry King asked me a few questions, I got to ask him a question, too. I haven’t mentioned this before, but when I go to college, I plan on studying journalism. Since Larry King is a very highly renowned journalist, I took advantage of the opportunity to ask him for wisdom on the subject. It was wonderful to get the chance to talk to Larry King about so many subjects so near and dear to my heart! After the interview with Larry King, I taped a short closing Public Service Announcement about what I do to help Stop Diabetes through my advocacy work, and how people just like you can become an advocate!
Herm Edwards, an awesome football analyst for ESPN, was there for an interview, too. Although he does not have diabetes, the cause is very important to him. His wife has type 1 diabetes and he has many concerns for her future and for his beautiful daughters as well. He definitely wants to Stop Diabetes! He was very kind and it was great to meet him! (He was wearing a pretty awesome tie that I admired greatly too)!
I also met Geri Spollett, President-Elect Health Care & Education, American Diabetes Association. Her interview was interesting to listen to… she is so knowledgeable about diabetes! Like the rest of us there, she is totally committed to helping to find a cure and to STOP diabetes!
I also had the great opportunity to speak to Ally Stoneberg from ESPN Communications about her start in communications/ journalism, and to see one of the many different paths that my intended career option could lead me. She was so nice and you could tell that she absolutely loves her job at ESPN!
Tony Labriola from Mullen was cool to work with, and John Hopper from the Larry King Cardiac Foundation was funny and did a great job of making us all feel at ease. It was also great to see Lois Witkop from the American Diabetes Association again. I had met her briefly before, but it was really nice to spend the day with her. All in all… it was an amazing day with so many amazing people!
To partake in American Diabetes Month, I hope you will consider spreading the word about the diabetes epidemic, and become a diabetes advocate! For more information, go to www.diabetes.org/advocate! I hope you will have a chance to see all of the interviews and the public service announcements during the month of November! I will try to post a link to them on the National Youth Advocate facebook page.
Until next time,
October 31, 2011
I hope you all had a great Halloween night! I had fun handing out candy in my neighborhood. I decorated my house with cobwebs, tombstones, my jack-o-lantern, and witch’s cauldrons, and I even played some scary Halloween music! If you’ve still got candy leftover, be sure to only enjoy a small amount at a time, count your carbohydrates carefully and take your insulin. It was very fun, but I’m not writing to tell you about my night. What I really want to tell you about is my adventure last weekend!
On Friday, October 28, I flew out to North Dakota. As soon as I arrived in Grand Forks, I headed over to the local radio station, KNOX, to be interviewed on the radio with the chair of the Step Out Walk, Dr. Eric Johnson. We talked about the Step Out walk and diabetes, and the radio station was generous in giving us ten whole minutes to talk! Not only was Dr. Johnson incredibly knowledgeable about diabetes, but he was incredibly nice too!
While there I also got to meet Stephanie from the Association and several interns who work with her. I realized right away that the people of North Dakota are all warm and wonderful!
After that, we headed over to Minnesota for lunch. I got to meet the highest fundraisers for their walk, Colin and his family, as well as many committee members. It was awesome to bounce ideas for fundraising with Colin and his family (plus, I got to have a wonderful salad)! After lunch, I got to tour the Altru Diabetes Center, where Dr. Johnson is the Assistant Medical Director. I got to meet all the staff, and even a patient! I told Riley all about being the National Youth Advocate, and I strongly encouraged her to get involved, stay involved and to apply to be the National Youth Advocate when she is old enough. I also encouraged Colin to apply in the future! It was really great to meet her and to get to see their work in action. They really have great things going on there. :)
After my hospital tour, I visited the Wellness Center at University of North Dakota, and Amy took me on a grand tour. She was so inspiring and you could tell that she loves what she does and is great at it!
The center was gorgeous! They had exercise equipment, a rock wall, a dance studio, an 1/8 mile track, a basketball court, a hockey rink, volleyball nets, a pool, and even a room set up like a cooking show to teach healthy food habits! The facility was like nothing I have ever seen before!
Afterwards, I went over to the local WDAZ station to talk again with Dr. Johnson, except on television this time! We spoke with the news anchor, again, about the Step Out event, and I feel it went very well.
Later that night, Dr. Johnson, his son, my mom and I went to a UND Fighting Sioux ice hockey game, and it was really amazing! The stadium was beautiful with its marble inlaid floors and leather seats, and the game was a lot of fun! It was an experience that I will not ever forget! I was so awed by my time at the University of North Dakota that I am now including it on my list of colleges to consider for my undergraduate degree in communications!
The next morning, we got up and headed over to the Step Out! It was being held at the convention center in Grand Forks, and it was an awesome setup. Most of the Step Out events I have attended have been outside, but it was neat to have it inside. They even brought in a couple moon bounces for the kids!
They had both an indoor and outdoor walk; the indoor one being a quarter mile track around the football stadium, and the outdoor, three mile walk being out in a cold, cold park! I chose to walk the indoor track!
Before the walk, I spoke about Safe at School, and then I sang the National Anthem. I lead the group of walkers into the indoor track, and then walked five or six laps around the track with some of my new friends. It was so much fun!
At the end of the walk, I had the privilege of announcing the top fundraisers and teams. There were tons of champions for diabetes (individuals who raised over $1,000)! All in all, the Step Out raised $57,000, and even more if you add in corporate sponsors! That’s the highest per capita walk, and I even got to be part of it! It was so awesome to take part in something so near and dear to my heart, and an event that so greatly helped in the fight to Stop Diabetes!
Never in a million years would I have thought that I could travel to North Dakota and have good weather there, but have to worry about a snowstorm back on the East coast, in October! I was not sure that we would be able to get our flight out of Minnesota and into Philadelphia, but all was well and the flight was only delayed by 45 minutes. :)
North Dakota was awesome, and I met so many incredible people…friends I will not forget!
This November, for American Diabetes Month, think about ways you can help Stop Diabetes through advocacy! Remember: together we can Stop Diabetes!
Until next time,
October 4, 2011
Last weekend was my local Step Out to Stop Diabetes walk! My team members and I got up very (very) early in the morning to drive up north for the walk. It was in a completely new location this year, which was exciting for everyone. The first thing we saw as we drove up was the overpowering images that screamed “Stop Diabetes!” It was awesome!
Everywhere we went, there were people in event t-shirts, and even t-shirts that they had made specifically for their team. This was the first year that we had Madison’s Prayer t-shirts made, and they turned out awesome! I drew up hands (based off of the Stop Diabetes logo) and the letters to spell Madison’s Prayer: A Cure 4 Diabetes! And I gotta’ say, we looked pretty awesome.
It was so great to see so many other teams with the same team spirit as we had. Step Out is one place where you can go and be surrounded by others that are just as excited about stopping diabetes as you are, and it’s a great feeling!
The walk was about five miles through a state park in Wilmington, Delaware. It was a great walk, and everyone seemed to enjoy it. It was supposed to rain, but luckily, the weather held out. It wouldn’t have stopped us, anyway!
There are still a few weeks left for fundraising, so the total from the event hasn’t been calculated yet. However, I have raised $5,700 so far and I have a few more weeks to work! My team total is not in yet, and I am very proud of the work we have done. I am looking forward to next year!
If you want to see my webpage to see how we are doing you can go to http://main.diabetes.org/goto/MadiDodge2011. There is even a link to the video I did with the Stop Diabetes Song if you have not had a chance to see it!
To find Step Out events in your area, visit www.diabetes.org/stepout, and I encourage you all to join the National Advocates in Action Step Out team! We’ve been doing a great job raising money for diabetes research but there’s still room to grow. You can learn more about it by clicking here!
It’s a ton of fun, and it raises money for a cause near and dear to all of our hearts … to Stop Diabetes!
Until next time,
September 22, 2011
As much as I refuse to believe it, the date proves that my year as the National Youth Advocate is winding down! This means that in a couple months, my term will be up, and another lucky teenager will get the chance to be the NYA! Being NYA is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling possible ways to spend a year!
So…without further ado, may the search begin!
The National Youth Advocate application process involves a series of essay questions that the applicant must answer, a video that outlines the work the applicant is doing, a doctor’s letter proving that the applicant has diabetes, and a letter of recommendation from a friend that can show witness of the applicant’s hard work. It sounds like a difficult process, but truthfully, I found it very enjoyable. It gave me a chance to look back on the work I have done and to plan what more I want to do in the following year.
Truthfully, I will miss the application process now that I can no longer apply! However, I can only hope that if you are a teen with diabetes and a yearning to make a difference through advocacy and public awareness, that you will apply too!
It has been an awesome almost ten months of being the NYA, and I know that next year will be just as awesome for the 2012 NYA!You can complete the application by clicking here to get started!
Until next time,
Today was my second day of being a High School Junior! It’s exciting for anyone starting a new school year, but when preparations means gathering not only school supplies, but also the many medical supplies necessary for proper diabetes care, it is important to be very thorough. Due to my preparations, the help of my mom, an awesome school nurse, and my trusty 504 plan, I know that I am as ready for this school year as I possibly can be. I know that this year, I will be Safe at School.
Safe at School
Tonight, I got the chance to partake in a very exciting opportunity! I got to help lead a Safe at School workshop for parents of students with type 1 diabetes! First I spoke about what I have been doing this year in regards to the Safe at School campaign. I talked about my travels around the country, and how I’ve spoken to campers and parents at summer camps and retreats around the country, and why the Safe at School campaign is so important.
I also spoke about my experience in school, and how having the proper resources and having willing help makes my school environment safer for me. Following my impromptu speech was Crystal Jackson, an amazingly knowledgeable friend of mine from the Association. She spoke about the logistics of the Safe at School campaign and what it all meant. It turned out to be a great conference, and I feel like everyone who attended gained a lot of useful information.
On Sept. 28, the Association is holding a free webinar for parents & guardians of school-aged kids with diabetes about the Safe at School campaign to help them learn how to ensure their kids are medically safe and have the same educational opportunities as other kids without diabetes. Learn more about the webinar by clicking here.
I hope you all have a fun and SAFE school year!
Until next time,
Yesterday I got the exciting opportunity to speak on two morning radio shows! But, what’s even more exciting is what I was talking about!
Hitting the Airwaves
I was there with my friend Morgan, who is a youth goodwill ambassador for my area’s Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes, who I just happened to have as a camper at Camp Possibilities last month! We talked about diabetes, how it affects our lives, and why Step Out is so important.
Can you guess why? If you were thinking of diabetes research and a cure, you’re right! It was so great to get the opportunity to speak to so many people, and to know that people all around, listening to not one, but TWO radio stations heard our voices and might even join us in the fight against diabetes. It was too cool!
Sign the Hand
On our way home, my mom and I stopped by Subway, and just happened to notice all the Stop Diabetes hands all over the wall. You can buy a hand and sign it for only a dollar, and they’ll put your hand on the wall! My mom and I put our Stop Diabetes hands on the wall with so many others! So, if any of you find yourself in a Subway store, make sure to make your donation to the American Diabetes Association and slap your “Stop Diabetes” hand up on the wall! You can enjoy a great sub (or salad, in my case!) and help Stop Diabetes at the same time!
Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes
Have you joined a Step Out team for your local walk? Or have you started your own team this year? Being involved in Step Out is an awesome way to meet new people, get some exercise, and have fun… as well as an incredible way to raise awareness, advocacy and money to help support the mission of the American Diabetes Association.
We need the help of some other people who share that passion for advocacy and who want to help me spread the word! If you have not already done so, please sign up for Step Out Today! Don't put it off another day! Do it now while you are thinking about it! Once you register for an existing team, or start your own (Or join my team Madison's Prayer as a real OR a virtual walker), then put advocacy messages on your fundraising web page! It is easy! You will raise vital funds, and vital awareness, at the same time!
You can find more information on my personal Step Out page at http://main.diabetes.org/goto/MadiDodge2011. I even added a video to my page. I added photos to a song written by Jim McGowen, called the Stop Diabetes Blues!
You can also sign up for the National Advocates in Action Step Out Team.
Until next time,
On Tuesday, August 2, I travelled out to Antioch, Tennessee to attend Camp Sugar Falls. Camp Sugar Falls is a day camp for kids with diabetes (and their siblings) who are ages 6-12.
Camp Sugar Falls
The campers have the choice of tons of different activities! There is a giant climbing tower called the Alpine tower, a really high (and mildly terrifying!) swing, a water park, a giant three-story slide that goes into the lake, a water trampoline, banana boat rides, horseback riding, archery, and even sailing! It looked like so much fun to do all of the activities, but as I was only visiting for a few hours, I couldn’t really do the water activities. I did do the swing, and it was tons of fun!
After I rode the giant swing, it was time to work! The day I was there, the families were invited for lunch to spend time with their campers and to participate in some education sessions.
Safe at School
I joined the parent group to give my speech about Safe at School and to outline the important components of school safety. Scott, a lawyer and the TN Advocacy Chair, spoke and answered questions the parents had about Safe at School, how they could help their children, and what to do when things went wrong.
After travelling around the country giving talks like this, I can say that the concerns are pretty universal. Every parent worries about their child when they leave for school every morning. They worry about the bus, field trips, low or high blood sugars, their child taking tests with high blood sugars, what happens when a substitute nurse is called in, and what to do if their child needs insulin. They worry about whether their child will receive the same educational opportunities that he/she would experience without diabetes.
Every Parent Worries, but the ADA is Here to Help
All of these concerns are valid, as safety at school is complicated and sometimes hard to come by, but part of my job is to help these parents learn how to help their children. I feel that after nearly an hour and a half of talking together, the lawyer helping me give the talk and I helped reassure these parents in knowing that safety for their child is in sight.
Ultimately, I had a fun and highly productive time at Camp Sugar Falls! It was an awesome camp with many amazingly dedicated counselors and staff. It would be cool to go back next year as a counselor in training. Then… I would also get the chance to conquer that Alpine tower!
Until next time,
Monday, August 1
I had a great week at Camp Possibilities! I was a Counselor in Training this year, and I was working with the 8 year olds. They were so much fun, and it was a great learning experience for me.
I have personally lived with diabetes for 10 years, but it was a completely different experience being in charge of other kids living with diabetes. It was very fun, but also a lot of work. I enjoyed having such an important role in their camp experience, too.
The Bead Princess
I was able to give a new workshop that I designed this year. After talking to the campers about diabetes care, I helped them make a bracelet with different colored beads. Each color bead is to serve as a reminder of some aspect of diabetes care – for example, red means to remember to check your blood glucose, green is a reminder to eat healthy foods, etc. We also made cards and extra bracelets that I will give to endocrinologists and doctors in our area to give to newly diagnosed patients as a message of hope and a reminder that even with diabetes, anything is possible!
I have loved travelling around the country to see different summer camps, but to be part of the action was fantastic. I have only ever been a camper at Camp Possibilities and a guest at other camps, but now that I have been a CIT, I can’t wait to do it all over again next year!
On the Road Again
On Tuesday, I travel to Tennessee for a diabetes day camp, where I will, again, speak about the Safe at School campaign. As we get closer to school starting, this is the time to make sure that you (or your child, if you are a parent of a child with diabetes) are safe at school. Be sure to read up about Safe at School at www.diabetes.org/sas!
I’ll be sure to tell you about my experience in Tennessee!
Monday, July 18
Last Tuesday was a very special day for me…my 16th birthday! I have been waiting for this day for…well…16 years!
A Sweet 16 birthday is an important milestone for most teenagers...the age where driving becomes legal (at least in my state of Delaware). This is a very exciting opportunity for every teenager, but also a very important responsibility!
However, as a 16 year old living with diabetes, the responsibility is even greater.
As I prepared to become a driver, I knew that it would be a challenge to keep my blood sugar in a safe range while behind the wheel, have all of my supplies with me at all times, and pay attention to the road. And I had to know how to respond should my blood sugar drop or rise quickly while I’m driving. Well, those challenges have all come to life in the past few days.
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
Driving is so much fun, and it really gives me a taste of the freedom I will have once I can drive completely on my own. However, diabetes (like in everyday life) complicates this freedom.
I check my blood sugar every time I get behind the wheel, and if my blood sugar is off, I don’t drive. This means that I could be stuck somewhere with a low blood sugar, unable to drive until it comes up. The thought of being alone somewhere with my blood sugar low just scares me.
I know that it is important to always have glucose tabs or Smarties in the car with me. I also need to always wear my medical identification and have something in the car that would tell others that I have diabetes in case there is ever a time that I can’t speak for myself.
I am still working on a way to be sure that I am always proactive and safe when driving!
For the next 6 months I will always be driving with a parent or other adult in the car with me and they can help me remember all the things that I need to do to drive safely with diabetes.
Good thing I have six months to figure out a method that works for me.
These are just a few things to think about as you teens (and kids) approach the day that you start driving.
Until next time,
Wednesday, July 13
This week I visited Camp GranADA in Illinois, and it was a great day!
I didn’t get to the hotel until about 2:00 am so the camp day came very early! But the absolute sense of fun was tangible as soon as I arrived at the campground, and I enjoyed myself from the moment I stepped out of the car.
When I arrived, there were campers playing dodgeball, doing arts and crafts, and fishing. I joined a group of teen girls my age making pet rocks! It was the last thing I expected to do when I got to camp, but it was really fun. I made a beautiful hot pink rock I affectionately named Delores.
Safe at School
After a wonderful lunch in the camp dining hall, I presented a speech to all of the campers about the Association’s Safe at School campaign. Then I interviewed some of the campers about how they care for their diabetes at their school.
The campers shared very interesting comments about their management plans. Even though I check my blood sugar, give insulin by pump and treat mild lows right in the classroom, I have always gone to the nurse’s office when I need assistance with my diabetes.
Some of the teens I interviewed go to the main office to get insulin from the school secretary since the nurse is not there all of the time. Another camper said that she keeps her tester and supplies in her locker so she goes there whenever she is high or low.
Talking to others about how they receive their care at school has definitely made me realize that we all may have different approaches to caring for our diabetes, but overall what is most important is that we are always safe… safe at home, safe at play and safe at school!
Camps are the Best
I had a fantastic day at Camp GranADA, and like always, it was cool to see the difference between the camps I have attended myself and the camps I have visited all around the country.
Even though it was very, very hot, all of the campers were having a great time and learning so much by being together. I really wished I could’ve stayed longer, but I’m glad I had the opportunity to spend the day there.
No doubt about it, diabetes camps are the best!
Until next time,
Saturday, July 9
Today was the last full day of CWD.
Time has flown so fast. It seems like only yesterday we landed in Orlando; tomorrow afternoon we leave!
I have had so much fun at the conference. It’s been a perfect balance of fun and education, which I like.
I participated not only in fun adventures like trips to Hollywood Studios, but I have also learned useful information that will help me the next couple of years as I transition from high school to college, and from pediatric endocrine care to more adult care.
Mickey and Minnie Want to Stop Diabetes, Too
We had a barbecue lunch today where there was music and good food, but even cooler, Disney characters. I got my picture taken with Mickey and Minnie, and it feels good to say that though they only have four fingers, our favorite mousey crew wants to stop diabetes just like the rest of us!
Off to Camp
Tomorrow I set off for Illinois, where I will speak at Camp Grenada about the Safe at School program and what it all means. I can’t wait to talk to the group of kids and teens because I know it will be so much fun for me, but also informative and hopefully helpful to them as well.
I’ll tell you more about Camp Grenada when I get there!
Friday, July 8, 2011
Today, the teens of CWD went to Hollywood Studios where we all had a great time!
It was fun because we all had freedom and walked around the park, but we knew that there were tons of people who could help us in case our blood sugars dropped.
Even more fun awaited us when we returned to the hotel, as we all got dressed up and went to a teen dance in one of the hotel ballrooms. The music was awesome and they played many of my favorite songs. I have very eclectic taste in music, and the DJ seemed to also, so it was a great night for me!
Even Dogs Can Have Diabetes
Throughout the day, I talked to and met some pretty cool people, and tonight I met up with someone very special. He’s had diabetes for most of his life. He has blood sugar checks, watches his diet, exercises and takes his insulin just like everyone else with diabetes.
I tried to interview him the other day when I first met him, and he seemed unwilling to talk to me, so I figured I’d try to talk to him again today. Tonight when I met him, he was just as quiet…so I talked to his owner!
Jackson is a 4 year old English Golden Retriever who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 2 months old. He has come here from Illinois with his family this week to help Dr. Wiedmeyer teach a session about caring for pets and animals with diabetes.
Jackson has such a neat story, and though he was unable to tell me about his life with diabetes, his owner told me how they came about finding, living with, and treating a dog with diabetes.
It was a great experience to hear about the struggles of treating diabetes in an animal, but it was also very inspirational. I figure…if a dog can do it, then so can I. So, now I have met both a monkey and a dog with diabetes – and a whole lot of party animals with diabetes at the teen dance too!
Until next time,
Thursday, July 7
Another great day at CWD!
Today I attended a bunch of teen sessions. The first one was about college and how to make the transition from high school - challenges I will be living through in only two short years.
There was also a session where all of the teen girls met and talked about our diabetes, what stresses us out, and how we can manage our diabetes as we go through our teen years. It was neat to be part of such a huge group of teen girls living with the same challenges and struggles that I do. I have always known that I wasn’t alone in my fight against diabetes, but to know that others share my same feelings is very reassuring to me.
Meeting Crystal Bowersox
After the session, I got to meet Crystal Bowersox! I got my picture taken with her in the exhibit hall, and she was really nice. She even signed an autograph for me. It was so great to meet her, and it’s even better to know that we have such an important advocate out there working to stop diabetes like the rest of us!
Later, there was a banquet to celebrate the 2011 Friends for Life conference, and it was a blast! Crystal came out and performed, and she was stellar. The music was wonderful, and she even answered questions. SO cool.
After Crystal, a DJ came out and had us all dance. All of the sponsors went up to learn the CWD Slide; it was like the cha cha slide, only CWD style. The banquet was great fun, and there were lots of cool souvenirs. It was fantastic!
Bill King, Marathon Runner & Diabetes Advocate
Yesterday I met and spoke with a couple new friends, but today I met with a few friends I have known for a while.
First I saw Bill King, a marathon runner, father, and longtime friend of mine, who happens to have diabetes. He has successfully run 17 marathons since he started wearing an insulin pump in 1996.
Bill is the manager of Patient Relations for the Animas Corporation. I have known Bill a long time, from Sugar Free Weekend Retreat, Camp Possibilities, and many diabetes associated events. Bill is also an awesome DJ/ Emcee for dances and talent shows at camps.
Bill told me he feels lucky to have diabetes because of all the cool things he has gotten to do because of it, and I feel the same way. Over the years, I have gotten to take part in countless exciting opportunities because of my diabetes. Other than the fact that I get to go to cool conferences like CWD, I have also met so many great friends over the past 10 years. If I didn’t have diabetes, I would have never met Bill, or the next friend I interviewed!
John Griffin, Chair of the Board
Tonight I also got to speak to John Griffin, the Chair of the Board of the American Diabetes Association. John, who has type 1 diabetes, is also a lawyer who represents families with children and workers with diabetes. On top of all that, he’s really a nice guy and one of my favorite people!
John told me that he wants to stop diabetes because it really affects people in negative ways, and that he doesn’t want to see the complications anymore.
I asked him what complication or problem he would fix if he could single-handedly end a complication causes by diabetes, and he explained that he would make it so that high blood sugars didn’t affect people and give them retinopathy, kidney problems, make them need amputations, or even go blind.
He says that some people just cannot keep their blood sugars down, and they could get seriously sick from something completely out of their control. I share the same opinion; the effects of hyperglycemia are devastating and one of my own biggest concerns.
I had another great day at Children with Diabetes! Tomorrow the teens are headed off to Hollywood Studios!
More blogs to come!
Wednesday, July 6
Today is my second day at Children with Diabetes, and it is just so exciting! I met so many people living with diabetes: kids, teens, parents, and even dogs.
Knowing You’re Not Alone
So far today, I have gotten the chance to meet and talk with some new friends of mine, including Sam Billetdeux, who was diagnosed when he was eight and is currently 21. Sam is an active member of the CWD Young Adult program and has travelled to many places around the world to exchange ideas with other teens, young adults and families.
Sam said that the hardest thing about growing up with diabetes was how alone he felt when no one understood how it felt to have diabetes. However, conferences like Children with Diabetes have made his life so much better, because he now knows that he isn’t alone in his fight against diabetes.
Sam is in college studying Spanish and environmental studies. He has always been determined to be sure that diabetes never gets in the way to his life dreams…and it sure hasn’t!
Soon after, I spoke with another new friend, Tom Karlya. He is the Vice President of the Diabetes Research Foundation, and is well known throughout the diabetes community as “Diabetes Dad.”
Tom has won many awards and commendations and he is an actor. He even was nominated for an Emmy award while he was the Executive Producer of dLife on CNBC!
But even more importantly, he is the father of two kids with diabetes. He said he wants to stop diabetes so his kids can go back to the way they lived before they were diagnosed.
Tom said that the hardest parts of being a “diabetes dad are learning the decision-making process of living with diabetes and finding a management plan that works for both the parent and the child.
It was neat to hear his perspective of living with diabetes because I usually talk to other kids and teens with diabetes but I don’t usually hear from their parents.
After a first-timers reception, I met with another new friend - it seems like I have made so many of those today! His name is Dr. Richard Rubin, and it was so neat to get the chance to talk to him.
Dr. Rubin is a past president of the American Diabetes Association, a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and an author of several well-known books on coping with diabetes.
Both his sister and his son have type 1 diabetes, so he has a very close relationship with diabetes. Not only is his son a great inspiration to him, they have even co-authored several books!
Dr. Rubin’s a psychologist and really focuses on positivity. We have a lot in common and share the mindset that even though life may force some unexpected and difficult challenges, you should focus on the happy and wonderful things you have despite the battles.
Dr. Rubin wants to stop diabetes because it is a burden to everyone it affects, and keeps some people from living life to the fullest. During the conference he is leading a workshop about positivity in life with diabetes, and though I am unable to attend the workshop due to my scheduling, I will have my mom take steno-grade notes so I don’t miss a thing.
Tonight at the exhibit hall reception I met Dr. Rubin’s wife, and she is just as nice! Dr. Rubin’s son is also at the conference presenting workshops… I hope I get to meet him too.
In my next blog entry I will tell you about some other interviews that I have lined up with some special people tomorrow.
Stop Diabetes Booth
I also worked at the Association booth in the exhibit hall for three hours during the reception tonight, and it was loads of fun. I walked around the exhibit hall with Adam, another Association volunteer, and we gave out more than 500 Stop Diabetes stickers. We even got some of the mascots to wear stickers! It was too cool!
I had the opportunity to speak about the Safe at School campaign to parents, children and teens that stopped by the booth. I spoke to many of the teens and children about the safe, online community, Planet D on the diabetes.org website. It is a great message board site for teens and children. You should check it out!
After the exhibit hall hours, I went to a teen ice-breaker session, and I met tons of other teens with diabetes. I’ll be spending the next couple of days with them, and we’ll even go to Hollywood Studios, too. I can’t wait!
Until next time,
July 5, 2011
I hope you all had an exciting Fourth of July. I know I did!
This morning, I flew to Orlando, Florida for the Children with Diabetes: Friends for Life conference. I have always wanted to attend this conference, but this is the first time I have ever been.
My mom and I were given badges that say “First Timer” and directed to a welcome area specifically for newbies like us. I have already met some pretty great new friends.
Tomorrow, there’s a reception for all first timers before the main event begins, which I think is a great way to help us feel comfortable before any of the big events and meetings. Since there will be over 600 children and teens with diabetes, and over 2,500 attendees overall, it will be helpful to meet some other first timers in a smaller setting first!
I love the idea, and I think I will mention it when we coordinate events for our next Sugar Free Weekend Retreat to see if we can incorporate this on a much smaller scale for our families that come for the first time.
I LOVE coming to events like this and getting great ideas to help make our local events even more amazing than they already are.
We also received pedometers when we registered. My mom and I put them on right away. They have a 10,000-step challenge here – when you get to 10,000 steps you get a special t-shirt!
We all know that it is important to be physically active to stay healthy. That is true for everyone, but even more so for a person with diabetes.
Researchers have found that taking just 10,000 steps a day is sufficient exercise for us to achieve health benefits associated with being physically active. That is the equivalent of about 5 miles of walking throughout a day.
Tonight my mom and I went to Epcot, which was open for extended hours until midnight. When I got back to my hotel my pedometer said I had walked 17,060 steps! And I did not even put it on until 2:00pm. I will claim my t-shirt in the morning and see how many healthy steps I can take tomorrow!
Tomorrow the sessions begin and I will get to meet even more new Friends for Life. I can’t wait to tell you all about it!
June 27, 2011 Part II
Today I spoke with Radm Kenneth Moritsugu, USPHS (Ret). He introduced himself and was so gracious to thank ME for all that I am doing to help STOP Diabetes.
It is always a warm feeling to be greeted in this way, but then when he told me that he was the retired acting surgeon general of the United States I was even more impressed! I was honored that he gave to me his personal coin medallion. I will treasure it!
I enjoyed listening to a presentation about the path to the artificial pancreas. It was not just interesting to hear where the researchers are in the process, but it gave me a strong feeling of hope that there will soon be even better technological advancements… a huge step until there is a cure!
Thanks Scientific Sessions
I left the Scientific Sessions today feeling both positive and humble, knowing that compared to the astronomical amount of combined knowledge of the minds inside, we each know so little.
I am always thankful for the American Diabetes Association, but nothing compares to the thanks I feel for all of the work they do to fund research, and the amazing work they do to encourage unity amongst all of the great minds …. To prevent and cure diabetes, and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes!
June 27, 2011, Part I
This morning I got to go back to the Exhibit Hall at Scientific Sessions to see the rest of the displays.
I can honestly say I was no less in awe of it all today than yesterday! I had a chance to play an interactive “game show” type game at the Free Style booth, I made a wish and tossed a coin into the Tradjenta (Lilly) wish pond, and learned about many new drugs and treatments for diabetes.
At the Johnson & Johnson booth, not only did I hear about great new products, I learned how you can put product words inside your cappuccino, not on the cup, on the foam itself! It was amazing to see Johnson & Johnson in red, written in drinks!
So Many Cool Sights
As I toured the Exhibit Hall at Scientific Sessions, I saw so many cool things that it is hard to remember them all at once:
- Cell phones that deliver insulin
- Innovative insulin pump designs
- Glucose meters that require even smaller amounts of blood for usage
- New computer programs to track diabetes management information
- Countless improved medications for people with diabetes.
But one thing that stuck out was a glucose test meter for animals. The meter can read blood sugars up to 750, because many animals have higher blood sugars than humans.
The thing that really struck me about this was that animals are living with the same effects of diabetes that we are. We’re not alone in this fight to stop diabetes…backing us up are dogs, cats, mice, and even monkeys!
That’s right, even monkeys!
Diabetes at the Zoo
Today I went to the zoo, and though you may not think this has anything to do with diabetes, it does.
I was walking through the monkey exhibits when my attention was drawn to a sign. It read
“Did you know… I’m a diabetic monkey. Like other people with diabetes, I follow a special diet to stay healthy. Please help me stay healthy by not feeding me anything.”
It’s strange to think about that because we rarely think about animals living with diabetes -let alone monkeys- but it affects everyone.
Just like the monkey needs the care of the zookeeper and the cooperation of the guests, it’s a joint effort to care for our diabetes as well.
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