Choosing the best place for your advocacy, time, and effort.
By Tom Karlya
November 2009 — Kids. They are incredibly energetic and they have the awesome ability and the power to make a difference. Make a difference in changing a world, even their own.
Years ago, I was at a walkathon for diabetes. There was a young man leaning on the starting gate archway and I asked him "What are you doing?"
He answered, "Nothing."
I said, "Why?"
He said, "No one asked."
Right then and there the idea came into my head to create something different, something where kids could be the central focus of an event and not standing on the sidelines. Surely the parents could help but the idea was that kids, if given the opportunity, could roll up their sleeves and be front and center making a difference. After years of work that opportunity has now arrived, with a program called Diabetes Diplomats.
Now before I explain the program, I want to be clear. This program is to benefit the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation and I work there. I am at the DRI because I believe the work being done there is the best hope for a cure for my two children. The DRI is not the JDRF or the ADA; these organizations do many great things, including raising money that they distribute to worthwhile centers or individuals doing research. But the Diabetes Research Institute is an actual working diabetes research center that has never changed its mission since day one: to cure diabetes in those presently living with it.
So what is a Diabetes Diplomat? Diabetes Diplomats raises funds that will go directly to diabetes research at the DRI. This is a program where the kids are the heroes. If they have diabetes, they help themselves; if they don't have diabetes and they want to help others, this program will show them how. Diabetes Diplomats aren't waiting for a cure but aiming for it through their own dedicated efforts.
There are two basic ways kids can run their program.
1. An online fundraiser where the Diabetes Diplomat creates their own fund raising page and invite people to visit and donate online (not a new idea but a good one); or
2. An incredible education and fundraising school event where kids teach their peers what it is like to live with diabetes. Through a walkathon or other school-wide event, Diabetes Diplomats also raise money for a cure. One school district raised over $40,000. The program is incredibly easy, motivating, and fun.
Now to be very clear again; if you are happy with what you do in making a difference, and you think it is the best place to help your child, than keep doing it. But if you are looking for something that will allow your child to help aim for that cure and to no longer be only a small part of a huge event; or you would rather they be the central point, the focus, and the leaders of a program that has been designed for them; reach out to me and let's work together.
Kids. They can change the world. I know…I have seen it because I'm a Diabetes Dad.
EDITOR'S NOTE: There are many worthwhile diabetes research and advocacy programs that take donations of time, services, and money, and dLife does not endorse any one specific fundraising program over another. We recognize and embrace the diversity of available programs, and also work with some of these groups through our dLife Foundation. Our diabetes resource guide has contact information for most of the major non-profit advocacy and research organizations.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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