One year later.


One year ago, I used the beginning of Diabetes Awareness Month to springboard the start of our Champion Athletes With Diabetes initiative. Yes, it’s my blog, but I think of this as our initiative, in the sense that a) I had this idea, and b) The Great Spousal Unit has enthusiatically supported it, and c) Countless people and places on the internet have been very supportive too. We’re all to blame, and we’re all to be congratulated (but you guys, more than me… really).

As I’ve mentioned before, I got the idea for this whole thing after I saw a video from Kerri Sparling. I started to look at what it would actually cost to have medals made, make certificates (even The Tin Man received a testimonial!), and send a personal note to each athlete who would write for a medal. The cost seemed reasonable, and in retrospect, the monetary cost plus the cost in time and effort has been miniscule compared to the warmth and kindness I’ve received from our Champion Athletes With Diabetes. And it’s even more miniscule compared to the happiness and pride I’ve felt for my fellow brothers and sisters with broken pancreases each time they achieve athletic goals that seemed nearly impossible when they began.

To date, we’ve delivered fifteen medals to Champion Athletes With Diabetes.

We’ve sent medals to 40 and 50-plus year veterans of living with diabetes. We sent one to a race car driver. We sent one to Scott Johnson and Mike Hoskins. We sent a medal to Mary Beth Wyss, a T1D with two adult children… and we sent one to Kelley Kent, a T1D who will become a Mom for the first time any day now (that’s worthy of its own medal, both before and after the baby is grown). Sprinkled in there are medals for kids and serious runners (hello Cecilia and Corey). And I can’t forget about the amazing Merle Gleeson and the inspirational Bob Parant.

If there’s one thing I hear more than anything else when I talk to people about earning a medal, it’s the notion that they are not a good enough athlete, or they haven’t done enough to earn a medal (yet). This medal is not about achieving a certain level of greatness. It’s about what goes into getting there: The hours of training, the high and (mostly) low blood sugars, the frustrations, and more than anything, the perseverance that is an important and necessary part of any athlete’s equipment.

I’ve been inspired and humbled by what these special athletes have achieved, even before they ever ran a race, or biked in a charity event, or signed up to play volleyball or soccer. I am so grateful you’ve let me share your remarkable stories.

Among the fifteen medals we’ve given away, there are two stories still waiting to be told. So look for more athletes before the end of this month. In the meantime…
If you are living with diabetes, and you’re active; or if someone close to you is living with D and is active, we would love to send a medal recognizing the athlete’s achievement.

There are only four simple things to do to get yours:

1. The athlete receiving the award must be living with diabetes.

The athletic event must have taken place in the last six months. For now, we’re going with a pretty loose interpretation of the word “event”. If you feel you’ve accomplished something important to you, that’s an event. ‘Nuf said.

3. Send me an e-mail at Tell me your name, name of the athlete (it’s okay if it’s you), and your address (gotta know where to send the medal). Most important, tell me what athletic goal was accomplished, and when. Extra points if you tell me how you felt accomplishing the goal. Full disclosure: I reserve the right to use your testimonial here, on Twitter, and on Facebook. I will not use your name if you don’t want me to. As always, I will never share private information.

4. When you receive your medal, it would be great if you post a photo of it around the athlete’s neck. You can send a Tweet to @ChampsWithD (hashtag: #champdathletes) or post it on the Champion Athletes With Diabetes Facebook Page.

I think D-Athletes are amazing. It takes a tremendous amount of planning, effort, and bravery to compete, or maintain an exercise routine. Heck, sometimes, it’s everything we can do just to walk around the block. Getting out of your comfort zone and taking that brave step is something that should be recognized and rewarded.

If it’s a big deal to you, it’s a big deal to me too. I want to support you, or support the Athlete With Diabetes in your life. Send an e-mail for your award today.
Happy Anniversary Athletes!

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  • Laddie  On November 3, 2014 at 11:37 am

    This is a great program, Stephen, and I always enjoy reading about the Champion Athletes that you profile. It can be very empowering to receive recognition and a medal for something you’ve worked hard for.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Caroline  On November 6, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    Hi Stephen,

    What a cool program! I just love this. Celebrating athletic accomplishments and the work involved in D-management with exercise……..very cool. I hope this is a motivator for more people to start exercising and keep exercising. I may apply after my next big event (my last big event was….big, but not especially challenging or medal-worthy!)

    I have seen you around the DOC for a long time now. Looking forward to reading more of your blog!


    • StephenS  On November 7, 2014 at 8:35 am

      Thank you Caroline! That’s very nice of you to say. And I’m guessing your event was medal-worthy…


  • Karen  On November 11, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    You have inspired so many!!!! Thank you for all you do!


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