The Power of One Still Shines Bright
The 2014 Lisa Awards
By Tom Karlya
I just cannot believe that five years have passed. Each May/June, in honor of my friend Lisa Carlinsky, I bestow my Lisa Awards — kudos to people who understand the power of one person. The award is given to people who, in their own way, are changing the world, just like Lisa did.
My friend Lisa passed away in 2009, at the young age of 36. She battled cancer longer than any doctor thought she would. Through her life, I learned a hugely powerful phrase that will live inside me forever, along with Lisa's memory: the power of one person.
To follow is Lisa's story and the award recipients.
If you haven't heard Lisa's story, here it is!
Lisa was diagnosed with cancer, and then she and Mark (her husband, who is as close to me as any brother) shared their writings with a hundred or so friends and family members, all of whom were inspired by each word. People learned, shared, and were in awe of their strength and dedication.
And then something happened.
People who were not part of the inner circle started reading the blog posts, and those people became inspired. The hundred readers became five hundred. In no time, the number of readers rose to 1,000, then 1,500. Soon 3,500 people were following Lisa's story at every turn, both the good and the bad. Both Lisa and Mark were so brave in the face of incredible tragedy that they inspired others to do the same.
And then something else happened.
A TV station found out about Lisa and they ran the story of her incredible efforts to teach others on the evening news. Millions heard her story and were inspired by the magic she possessed — the determination to live life and taste every last drop. Sadly, Lisa's valiant battle was lost, but not before millions heard about it. Lisa and Mark's teachings would go on. Her "power of one" still changes lives to this day.
This column, surrounding Lisa's birthday month, pays tribute to those who understand Lisa's philosophy of the power of one person. Because I am more versed with the happenings inside the diabetes community, my Lisa Awards are given to those people who live Lisa's determination to make a difference with the "power of one" in the diabetes community. These people don't do it — whatever it is — for only themselves, they do it because they think it will make a difference in the lives of those with diabetes. Lisa's words live in these special people — they know and understand the power of one.
MY FIRST LISA AWARD FOR 2014 GOES TO BENNET DUNLAP
When you first meet Bennet, you are immediately taken by his razor-attention-focus to what you are saying. But his serious side is complimented by a side that likes to have fun. It's very hard to find a photo of Benet by himself. His work on so many aspects of diabetes is well known in the diabetes community; but this year he very well may get the credit for single-handedly-changing the way the FDA holds manufacturers of glucose strips accountable for accuracy. His "Strip Safely" endeavor didn't take a light to this subject; it blew it out of the water with fireworks, spotlights, and a glow that reflected to the world-over. Don't be too quick to give him the credit because he is the first one to say that he had a whole ‘lotta' help. But it doesn't happen without this incredible d-dad at the wheel of this much needed ship. Power of one indeed.
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Some people have trained diabetes alert dogs that bark and lick their face in the middle of the night when their child is experiencing dangerously high or low blood sugars. I don't have a dog to wake me up. When I sleep past the alarm and forget to test my son's blood sugar, I turn to my go-to guy - a hallucinatory stone-faced murderer. Completely zonked hours after I wanted to wake up and check Charlie, I found myself walking along the...