For the last two weekends, I have been privileged to work with two wonderful programs to put diabetes front and center. They are Take Control of Your Diabetes (TCOYD) and Tour de Cure (ADA event). Over the course of eight days, over 1,500 individuals spent a day of their lives focused on diabetes by attending educational events or by cycling, walking or volunteering to financially support education and research for diabetes. Through my many years as a diabetes educator, I have also been associated with other group programs such as InsulinDependence, JDRF, kids’ camps and family retreat weekends. There is a certain magic that happens when individuals with diabetes come together with their support team and put their day aside to focus on this tedious and endemic disease.
Comments range from “what a wonderful program. I now realize I can take charge” to “this program has changed my life.” During walks, families share stories. During bike rides, one individual helps another through challenges of distance or hypoglycemia. During camp, children coax each other to take their blood sugar while discussing their favorite flavor of glucose tablets. It’s great to see the smiling faces for those a-ha moments or for conquering a physical challenge and saying….I did it!
Diabetes educators are a wonderful group. At the latest Tour de Cure, everyone one of the diabetes educators I work with on a regular basis volunteered to share their day, whether counting carbohydrates on a menu, serving as part of a nurse support team, manning a checkpoint, riding in a support vehicle or giving an educational talk. The endocrinologist in the office and his nurse assistant also took part in the events. And we all came back richer because we had shared a bit of ourselves. Our patients benefited from the experience, and appreciated the fact that we also had donated a day to focus on diabetes and those that are burdened by it.
I hope each one of you says “yes” when asked to volunteer for a local event. Or perhaps, if none are available, help to create one. Working together with a multitude of organizations, we can help to support individuals with diabetes and to help financially support those working towards a cure for this tedious and relentless disease.