Saturday I attended the 5th annual Reach & Teach sponsored by the MInnDakotas chapter of the JDRF. The event was a family event with children participating in a KidsKamp while their parents visited vendor booths and attended educational sessions. The JDRF has been working hard to include adults with Type 1 in its mission and the event had plenty to offer T1 adults. Many of the adults who attended are part of the local JDRF Adults with Type 1 support group and it was a day of fun meet-ups and conversations.
Kerri Sparling, the rock star blogger from Six Until Me, was the featured speaker for the event. It’s kind of a “duh” thing to say, but in person she is just like she is online. She sparkles, she is witty, she talks fast, and she draws you into her story to help you learn about your own. To the parents attending the opening session, she was proof and inspiration that their children with Type 1 will grow up to be happy and healthy adults.
The second part of the opening session was a JDRF Research Update presented by Barb White, a parent of a T1 son and a JDRF Board Member. She gave a thorough overview of the types of research that JDRF funds and inspired us with the theme that “JDRF is turning Type One into Type None…with not just a vision, but a plan.”
Later in the morning Kerri led a session addressing diabetes burn-out. She shared many moments of laughs and tears with the audience of adult T1s, parents, and a few adolescent T1s. She did a good job of involving the group and we covered an eclectic bunch of topics from Dr. Bernstein to bad relationships with doctors. To the 17-year old who shared her angst at the difficulty of trying to be perfect for her parents and doctors, you are brave and you are not alone. Your confession brought tears to my eyes and I hope that sharing your burden made it a bit lighter.
The third session that I attended was The Use of New Media Sources for Diabetes Education and Care Delivery which was presented by two doctors from the University of Minnesota Pediatric Endocrinology Department. Dr. Brandon Nathan began his presentation with the fact that if you do a Google search for “Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus”, you will get 71,400,000 (!) matches. After that he did an overview of research validating the benefits of online education and care for patients with diabetes. Dr. Ewa Oberdorfer’s presentation highlighted her research work with T1 teenagers and the use of online contact and videos made by teens for teens to help improve the education and health results for this age group.
The day ended with a kick-off rally for the 2014 Walk to Cure Diabetes along with a box lunch. It was particularly nice to see salads and gluten-free options in addition to the standard sandwich boxes. Kerri joined a bunch of us for lunch and graciously donated her chocolate chip cookie to Doug (@salguodmai) who had broken the ice in the burn-out session by unabashedly proclaiming his love for candy and sweets. If you check out Doug’s blog, you can read his report of the day and see a few more photos.
Some other blogger attendees were Katie from Diabetic Advocate, Cynthia from Diabetes Light and Finding Peace between the Pokes, and Mari Ruddy whose new blog is still in development. I have admired Mari for a long time from afar and was pleased to have the opportunity to meet her.
It was a good day and thanks to the MInnDakotas JDRF for sponsoring such a high quality event. No one wants to have Type 1 Diabetes, but if you do, the Twin Cities is a good place to have it. We have a strong Type 1 community with lots of opportunities to learn from each other, support each other, and make friendships that are stronger than diabetes. We have an informal T1 get-together next Saturday, November 23 and a JDRF Adult with Type 1 meeting on December 16. If you live in the area and would like information on either of these events, please contact me.