Success Stories

You're not alone. Others have faced - and defeated - discrimination because of diabetes. Here are some recent examples.

Lance Paoli

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Lance Paoli

Millions of teenagers have diabetes, and many self-manage their diabetes care at school with no problems.

Lance Paoli, of Maumelle, Arkansas was one of those students. He had been successfully handling his own diabetes care at school for several years. But, at the beginning of his sophomore year in high school, a new school principal started a policy that no longer allowed students to self-manage their medications, or even carry their own medical supplies at school. All medicines had to be kept in the school nurse's office.

Lance’s mother, Susan, felt that Lance’s health would suffer during the school day under this new policy.

Susan met with school leaders about this situation, but the principal would not change the policy. She filed a complaint with the Pulaski County School District and, around this time, Lance was, also, suspended from school for testing his blood sugar level in class.

So, Susan contacted the American Diabetes Association for help!

A Legal Advocate at the Association gave her information about the legal rights of students who have diabetes. Susan then shared this information with the school principal, who reversed the new policy, dropped Lance’s suspension and, once again, allowed students like Lance to self-manage their diabetes at school. Susan was happy to know that Lance would be medically safe at school into the future.

Erin Argueta

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Erin Argueta

Millions of people in the United States who have diabetes travel. Those who wear insulin pumps and need to get through security at airports learn about the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) rules that might affect them. Then, they figure out how much extra time they might need to get through security to make their flights on time.

Erin Argueta has type 1 diabetes, wears an insulin pump and has traveled to over 100 countries around the world. Erin has learned to allow extra time at the airport since the security process for her situation involves a pat down search, rather than regular x-ray screening. On one occasion, Erin, a Business Analyst who travels several times a year for her job, had a flight scheduled. She let her supervisor know that she would need to leave work thirty minutes earlier than the normal time employees would leave for a flight, explaining that pat down searches can involve unexpected delays. Her supervisor then warned her that, if she left early, she could be written up and disciplined for not obeying the rules.

So, Erin contacted the American Diabetes Association for help.

One of the Association’s Legal Advocates (a lawyer experienced with diabetes discrimination) told Erin about her legal rights. Under the law (the Americans with Disabilities Act), Erin could ask for a "reasonable accommodation" from her employer. For this situation, that would mean that Erin could ask to leave earlier to get through airport security in timely manner.

Since Erin now understood her rights, she sent a more formal request to her employer that included information about the law and a supportive letter from her doctor.

The result?

Erin was given the accommodation she wanted: to leave work earlier to get to the airport in plenty of time.

Erin says, "I would like to formally thank the American Diabetes Association for the help I received with this matter. Having lived with type 1 diabetes for over 42 years, and having traveled a lot, this was the first time I have ever needed help with a travel matter. The Association is remarkable in standing up for the rights of people like me who have 'invisible' disabilities that people so often overlook. Thank you American Diabetes Association and your amazing Legal Advocate!"

Lauren Jess

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Lauren Jess

Ten-year-old Lauren Jess of Queen Creek, Arizona has type 1 diabetes. Lauren attends the Kids Club, a community-based childcare program at her local school. The Kids Club was created as a safe, caring place for children aged 3-12 to go, before and after school and during the summer. But, the Higley Unified School District, which runs the Kids Club, did not allow program staff to be trained in diabetes care, even though free training was available. Since the staff had not been trained about diabetes care, Lauren was not able to participate in any of the program events that involved food and drink.

Lauren's mother, Jan, was very unhappy about this.

She spoke with Anne Dennis, Director of Mission Delivery for the American Diabetes Association's (Association) Phoenix office. At Anne's suggestion, Jan then contacted a Legal Advocate, a lawyer in the Association's national office experienced in legal issues involving diabetes. Jan explained that, for many reasons- especially to keep Lauren medically safe at the Kids Club- it was necessary for its program staff to be trained in diabetes care. Jan learned from the Legal Advocate that federal and state laws protect children with diabetes in these situations-that Lauren had a legal right to attend and fully participate in the Kids Club. The Legal Advocate also gave Jan suggestions that she could use to speak about this with the program's director.

Success at the Kids Club!

After a lot of back and forth emails, along with at least one refusal to meet, Jan was finally able to meet with the Kids Club Supervisor and the school's Director of Community Education. Jan knew that the law was on Lauren’s side and was able to convince the program's managers to allow ALL of its staff members to be trained on diabetes care.

"Thank you to everyone who helped to make this program truly safe for every child who has diabetes!"

"Without the free legal guidance offered by the American Diabetes Association, this matter could have been ignored! But, it wasn't ignored. This was a major step, not only for Lauren, but for other children with diabetes who need to attend the Kids Program." Jan Jess

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Read What Others Are Saying About the Legal Advocacy Program

"Without the legal guidance offered by the American Diabetes Association, this matter could have been ignored. But it wasn't ignored. Thank you to everyone who helped to make this program truly safe for every child who has diabetes." — Parent of child with diabetes

"I found you when I was at my worst and, if not for your help, I would have been lost." — Employee with diabetes

"I should have called sooner…I think I was being a little too patient. I am very grateful for your support and expertise in this area. I cannot thank you enough!" — Parent of child with diabetes

"Just wanted to tell you thank you for speaking with me last week regarding my patients and the suggestions you provided. I received the packet of information you sent me and will make it available to our patients." — Health care provider

"The Association is remarkable for standing up for the rights of people like me who have 'invisible' disabilities that people so often overlook. Thank you, American Diabetes Association, and your amazing Legal Advocates." — Employee with diabetes

"I am very thankful for the American Diabetes Association services to help families make sure their children are safe and treated fairly. I wish all parents caring for children with diabetes were aware of their rights." — Parent of child with diabetes

"I cannot thank you enough for your assistance through this ordeal. I likely would not be employed right now without it. I will use my first check to become an Association member and support your organization." — Employee with diabetes

"I should have called sooner…I think I was being a little too patient. I am very grateful for your support and expertise in this area. I cannot thank you enough!" — Parent of child with diabetes

"Thanks so much for all of your assistance. I can't tell you how much it meant." — Employee with diabetes

"I want to thank you for the time you spent visiting with me on the phone recently. It is extremely encouraging to visit with someone that understands diabetes and is willing to provide information regarding this disease… All of us involved appreciate your willingness to keep an open file. This is the first time the family has experienced a friendly relationship, and we sincerely appreciate your helpful attitude." — Advocate for inmate with diabetes

  • Last Reviewed: October 1, 2013
  • Last Edited: January 29, 2015

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