Last Saturday I spoke at the launch of Marjorie’s Fund in New York City. Marjorie’s Fund is a non-profit organization founded by endocrinologist,Jason Baker, a person himself with type 1 diabetes, and just featured in Diabetes Forecast as “People to Know in 2013.” And deservedly so.
Until now Marjorie’s Fund has dedicated its energies to empowering youth and adults with type 1 diabetes in Africa by providing resources, education and supporting relevant research. Marjorie’s Fund was actually named after a young woman Dr. Baker met in Uganda, who hard as she tried, given the lack of resources, died at 29 from kidney failure, a consequence of her type 1 diabetes.
The three hour event gathered about 75 people with type 1 diabetes and their loved ones – parents, spouses and friends – at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan. The event had a triple purpose: to help introduce PWDs (people with diabetes) to local resources, create community and celebrate those we hold dear who support us each day.
Yet, in that list of supporters, I left out a significant source of support – our children. And, I hadn’t really thought about it until 16-year old Hannah approached me and introduced herself and her dad who has had type 1 diabetes for 41 years. Same amount of time as me.
I was truly moved by the loving relationship between Hannah and her father and realized, not having children myself, that children who have parents with diabetes, particularly type 1, are both a source of support and impacted by their parents’ diabetes. It must be frightening to see your parent exhibit any of the symptoms of low blood sugar or at times heart-wrenching to see them check their blood sugar multiple times a day, every day.
Wanting to help other young people whose parents have diabetes, Hannah created the website KIDDs, Kids of Insulin Dependent Diabetics. It culls resources, basic information and gives you, if you are the child of a parent with diabetes, a place to be with others who share your experience.
As we parted, Hannah’s father and I agreed that we’re going for our 50 years with diabetes Joslin medal. I’m hoping Hannah will join us at the celebration dinner. Who knows? Maybe by then she’ll have kids of her own!