Slam Dunk for Diabetes Basketball Camps Make a Huge Difference

Posted by therese on Tue, 12/16/2014 - 09:48 in

“My daughter cried when we left, because she didn’t want the camp to end!” was how one mom described her daughter’s experience at the Slam Dunk for Diabetes Basketball Camp.

This three-day free camp is offered to any child with diabetes ages 5-18. It’s the only free, not-for-profit basketball camp and relies solely on donations. So a huge “thank you” to all of those companies that helped! My son Joey loves his Omnipod insulin pump, so we were thrilled to learn that the Omnipod was a new sponsor this year.


Joey Balistrieri and friend Jack Borck


Monica Joyce, the founder of the not-for-profit camp, is a diabetes educator who had a dream - and thankfully it came true. Monica says: “Slam Dunk for Diabetes is the place where kids with diabetes come for free to have fun and to learn that they’re not alone, how to manage their disease through food, insulin or medication and exercise, and make new friends on and off the basketball court!” To watch all the kids play, laugh and make new friends is truly a blessing. One of the moms said, “This camp is truly a blessing for my son – it shows him that he is not alone with this disease.”

Experiences at Slam Dunk for Diabetes Basketball Camp

Usually my son Joey is the only kid at basketball or football with type 1 diabetes, but at this camp every kid has diabetes. When the whistle blows after an hour of fun basketball activities, all of the kids run over to the tables where a nurse checks and records their blood sugar. No one is apprehensive or embarrassed. Why would they be? They all go through the same experiences!

The camp medical staff and the coaches are all amazing. They all volunteer their time and it gives them the opportunity to see first-hand how sports and activities can affect the kids’ blood sugars. It also gives them hands-on experience with type 1 diabetes. My grandson Cooper, age 8 and diagnosed at 22 months old, had a blast at camp. He had a low blood sugar level at one of the check times, so he had to sit out for a few minutes (this is the reality of diabetes and sports!). Without these nurses and diabetes educators, this camp wouldn’t be possible!

Bringing Camp to Milwaukee

A boy by the name of Jack Borck was instrumental in bringing the Slam Dunk Camp to Milwaukee. He attended the camp in Rockford, IL and asked his mom if they could bring it to the Milwaukee area. His mom started working with Monica to make that happen and this year was the second annual three-day camp here.

One morning at camp, the ADA held a Family Link event. They invited an endocrinologist and dietician to come in for a Q&A session. Parents were all invited to this very informative session and a lot of questions regarding managing blood sugars during sports were answered. It was a good opportunity to ask questions outside of the clinic atmosphere. Opportunities like these for parents to network and meet other parents who understand exactly what they go through are priceless!

It was great to see our local news media visit the Milwaukee camp, interview the coaches, nurses, Joey, Jack and Jack’s mom. Check out the stories here and here.

We are all so fortunate that Monica had this dream - and even more fortunate that it became a reality.

Click here to order a free Demo of the Omnipod insulin pump.