Tomorrow is World Diabetes Day. I sit here thinking about all of the 31 years of my life that I lived with Nov. 14th passing right by me...clueless to what it was or what meaning it held for so many people. I had no idea honestly who Sir Frederick Banting was or even the fact that he had discovered insulin. I didn't know the magnitude of this disease. I thought that all a diagnosis of diabetes meant was that you had to adjust your diet and you were no longer able to eat any sugar. I thought that it was something that could be taken care of with a pill every morning...and if you were affected with a really "bad case" of it, then you had to have a shot of insulin every day too. I thought that the only thing a diabetic had to worry about was the food that they put into their mouths and the amount of exercise they had to do to maintain a healthy weight. To make a long story short....I was clueless....I was ignorant...I had no idea.
Emma was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes on June 26, 2008. She was 4 years old and about to start school for the very first time that September. She came to me in October and asked me if we could have a hot chocolate stand to raise money for the people looking for a cure for her diabetes. She wanted to help them. She wasn't willing to just sit back and remain quiet...let someone else take care of things...let someone else shout it from the rooftops that we need a cure. At 4 years old, she had enough social awareness to realize that if you want to make something happen, you need to open your mouth and tell someone...you need to reach for the stars and set goals for yourself that at the time may seem unattainable or out of your reach. So, on Nov. 14, 2008 we held our very first hot chocolate sale to raise money for JDRF. Emma managed to raise $1200 that night. I have so many memories of that night that make me smile. One image in particular though will stick with me for the rest of my life. I recall standing beside her and watching her talk to the local TV news reporter about her fundraiser. We were in the middle of a crowded grocery store, bright lights were shining in our eyes, and I looked down at her smiling face standing next to me...she looked like an angel to me...she was smiling from all of the excitement...she was beautiful...I saw deeper than that though...I saw the look in her eyes. I saw for the first time in her life, true pride in herself and what she had made happen. She was so overwhelmingly pleased that her idea that started out simply as a thought...a desire...a wish....had transformed into this...the reality which was now before her. It was amazing. I am so lucky that I got to be there with her and see her sweet face in that moment.
So, here we are about to have our 4th annual hot chocolate sale fundraiser. I feel a deep and raw sadness that we are still doing this...there is still not a cure. I hope that Emma doesn't ever get discouraged and doubt the power of this fundraiser. I hope she doesn't ever stop dreaming big.
I sat here tonight talking with her about Sir Frederick Banting and his life. I told her that he is a shining example of how important it is to be curious...to have that insatiable thirst for knowledge...to posess that perseverance and determination that will keep you going...keep striving...keep dreaming big and reaching for the impossible. I told her that you can never stop trying...never stop questioning...never stop learning...because once you do, once you succumb to that complacency and that stagnant way of thinking...all will be lost. I told her that one of the most important things in life that I wish for her is to continue to be curious and to continue to ask questions and educate herself.
So, here I sit...greatful beyond all belief for this man I have never met...and I hope that all of you reading this will not wait for Type 1 Diabetes to become a part of your life before you decide to take a moment to learn about it...to educate yourselves and share what you have learned with others. I hope that you will choose to stand up and reach for the stars in whatever you do in life...don't give in to complacency...don't lose that fire within...don't lose that hope.