I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on March 25, 1995 when I was in the sixth grade. I was on the verge of becoming a teenager and having diabetes wasn’t really the biggest thing on my mind. At age 12, I knew the difference between having diabetes and not having it, and it was a lot easier to let my parents deal with the hard parts such as giving shots and calculating carbohydrates. While I knew that I was diabetic, I never really took full control of my diabetes.
As I went from a small middle school to a huge high school, I started to meet more people my age who had type 1. This allowed me to see how other people took care of themselves and to see that I wasn’t where I wanted to be in terms of my own diabetes care. As I got ready to head off to college, my doctors approached me about starting insulin pump therapy (still relatively new in 2001). The thought of being attached to a “lifeline” at all times and needing to consider my blood sugar levels at every moment was both scary and the start of me taking over my diabetes from my parents.
College was a place to really take care of my diabetes on my own. By the time I was a senior, I had fully taken on my own diabetes and realized it was time to try and do something for others with type 1. With encouragement from one friend, I signed up for my first JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes. My father had done the Walks in the past, but I had never shown much interest. I can remember the feelings around that first Walk. I was nervous and extremely shy, looking around the site full of families and children running around and I can remember feeling out of place. In fact, as the Walk began, I reached for a bottle of juice in case I needed it along the Walk, only to be told that I should “leave the juice for the children who needed it” by a volunteer who didn’t think that I could be one of the many “children” there with type 1. A funny thing happened as I walked around the route. Instead of thinking about how my own diabetes affected me, I started to think about the fact that the small amount of fundraising I was able to do would help so many others.
Since that first Walk 10 years ago, I’ve gone from being an individual Walker to creating a Team that peaked at 12 members walking in three different locations. In the 10 years of doing the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes we have raised more than $28,000. What I have found so rewarding about this Walk is not only helping to raise money for cutting edge research, but seeing how many people are willing to give money year after year to not only support me, but also the people in their lives and the millions around the world who live with type 1 diabetes every day.