A Thanksgiving diagnosis, and the Champion Athlete it produced.

It’s been a long time since we’ve told the story of one of our Champion Athletes With Diabetes. Let’s do something about that.

Cole is seventeen years old. He lives with his family outside of St. Paul, Minnesota, where he’s been a soccer nut since he was three days old, cheering on his sister in a big game. This is his senior year of high school, and he’s on the roster of one of the top teams in the state.

He’s a tough kid. Played through a thyroid problem a year ago, and two years ago suffered a broken tibia and fibula, which required two surgeries and extended time in a wheelchair. A year prior to that, Cole suffered a severe concussion, and in 2010 he was diagnosed with Grave’s disease.


But the toughest blow came just before Thanksgiving five years ago. I’ll let his Mom, Kris, take it from here. This is from the e-mail she sent me:

“On that day he was anxious to go work out with his team. He had been working so hard he was losing weight ALOT of weight (that he didn’t have to lose), and those workouts had him needing to stay hydrated…or so he thought. I had called the doctor to make an appt. for after the holiday, but they insisted I bring Cole in immediately. Once there they efficiently ran a blood test before we even got in to see the doctor. While he was begging me to get him to practice on time, I heard the doctor outside the door telling the nurse to call Children’s hospital to let them know she was sending a new diabetic in immediately…. Our Type 1 journey had begun.

Thanksgiving morning Cole’s body was dealing with a drop from over 800 to 40 in a few hours. He was barely responsive and we of course were quite concerned. His father and I sat in the hospital family room eating leftover turkey wondering what was in store. Very late that night he started to be a bit more alert and he started mentally processing his diagnosis…the fears, the questions, the tears poured out.

The next morning he woke up early-, pale , so very thin and still sporting an IV, but with a very determined question for his nurse. “What do I have to do to get out of here? I have a game tonight? They explained that he had to learn how to keep himself safe, with meetings with the dietician, pharmacy, family counselor and diabetes educator, a process that takes two days. He told them he needed to eat and take a shower but that he would learn it all and they needed to release him in time to get to his game.

I’ve don’t think I’ve ever been so proud AND so scared as watching him play that game just hours after he got released. He did his first test on his own prior to that game on the side of the field. Afterward when we talked about the game he said he thought he did ok considering he saw three balls, but he figured he would just aim for the center one.

There have been many games since, with highs and lows and wins and losses. He has learned to read his body and adjust for his activity and all the effects of the other medical challenges and the way they have complicated his numbers. He has learned to advocate for himself with coaches, refs and others. He has stayed positive and focused on his training And he has achieved his goal of having others see him as a strong athlete and valuable member of the team. My hope is that this his senior year his team finishes strong and maybe goes to state….but regardless of their standing at the end of the season, I think Cole deserves an award for being an athlete with diabetes.”

How’s that for inspiring? Who can’t get excited about that kind of determination? Cole’s team finished with 13 wins and just one loss on the season, which included a win against the 2nd ranked team in the state. In his first-ever season as a defender, Cole made all-conference honorable mention. Take that, diabetes!
So… what about you? How great would it be for you to say you earned the same medal as Cole? I encourage you to nominate yourself or the special Athlete With Diabetes in your life today.

Four simple things will mint your medal, and only the first three count:

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

2. 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 champswithdiabetes@gmail.com. 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.

If it’s a big deal to you, it’s definitely 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.

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