I was absolutely floored when I received the e-mail from the International Diabetes Association in April stating that I had been nominated and selected as a World Diabetes Day Hero. The thought still astounds me, as it is one of the greatest honors I could ever imagine being bestowed.
World Diabetes Day (WDD) was launched in 1991 by the IDF and the World Health Organization in response to growing concerns about the escalating health threats posed by diabetes. WDD became an official United Nations Day in 2007 with the passage of UN Resolution 61/225. WDD’s goals align with the IDF mission to promote diabetes care, prevention and a cure worldwide.
Although this honor spotlights me as person with diabetes and as someone trying to change the face of what diabetes is, hopefully people will not look at me and only think “diabetes.” I am a father, cyclist, advocate, athlete and significant other who just so happens to have type 1 diabetes. I am more than just this disease. Much more.
That said, I cannot overemphasize how proud I am to be part of such a diverse but overwhelmingly familiar group of extraordinary individuals. We all live in different parts of the world, have completely different backgrounds, interests and are of different ages, and yet we speak a language that all of us with diabetes understand. No matter our diversity, people with diabetes understand the language of blood glucose monitoring, insulin pump usage, hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, temp basal rates, and the growing concerns of the statistics surrounding this disease. Even as complete strangers, we share an unusual closeness, camaraderie and intimacy.
The title “hero” should not be limited to the small number of individuals, such as myself, who are highlighted in the IDF WDD Heroes Gallery. It is a much more fitting title to be given to ALL of those who are caregivers, such as nurses and p
arents of young people affected by diabetes, and every single individual who deals with this horrific disease every day. The folks who do the around the clock finger sticks on their type 1 child, the nutritionist working on educating a person with diabetes about their diet, or any of the estimated 300 million or so people worldwide who deal with this relentless disease each and every day for the rest of their lives.
It doesn’t matter if you are a king or queen, bus driver, office worker, teacher or delivery person – everyone affected by diabetes who tries to live a healthier life, who cares for themselves or loved ones, and who face diabetes head-on every day, are ALL Diabetes Heroes.