There’s an old saying that goes something like, “if you want God to laugh, tell him your plans.” While that may be somewhat true, I also think God’s plans are much better than ours… when we’re not too stubborn to recognize it.
I never planned to get diabetes. And I certainly didn’t think diabetes would become my life’s work. But it has, and I am grateful. So once again, God’s plans are better than my original ones. It’s taken me a long time to fully understand the scope of diabetes and the emotional needs that come with it. In fact, I don’t think I truly understood those needs until this past year.
For 12 months, I’ve become more active with diabetes programs than any other point in my life. And I love every single minute of it. It has saved my health, made me a better reporter and helped my heart grow larger than I thought possible. It’s made me want to reach out to the world, one diabetic family at a time.
Hot Shots, one of two passions, is a cornerstone group in Huntsville that offers education, networking and social events to families affected by type 1 diabetes — families of all shapes and sizes. Diabetes isn’t deterred by social status, race or age and neither is Hot Shots. Slowly, Hot Shots is reaching family after family, and each time, it fills my heart with such joy.
I guess it first started when I was 16 years old and fortunate enough to be a counselor at a diabetes camp. Two weeks later, I walked away with a renewed energy and outlook on life. For the first time since being diagnosed, I felt completely normal. I was accepted, and I was no different than anyone else.
The thing about diabetes camp is… it’s not about diabetes at all.
In the real world, a low matters and a time-out is necessary. Everyone around needs to be aware and explanations are often warranted — even for the simplest of tasks. But at camp, it’s nothing like that. Everyone has lows, everyone has highs and everyone has diabetes. No explanations, no odd glances and no weird stares.
It’s a magical feeling that can best be described as a vacation from diabetes.
Following my camp years, I grew up and joined the real world ranks. I got a job, I paid bills and I moved on. Sadly, I’m not able to participate in camp because of career and financial constraints. But I have found another way to achieve that magical feeling of anonymity and normalcy — through Hot Shots. I’ve found a new family — an extended family — who understands the highs and lows and doesn’t question me when I eat a cupcake. I’ve found friendships that mirror that of a family, and I’ve found a renewed purpose in my life.
Many years from now, I want to be remembered for my work in the diabetes community. I don’t want to be the one who cures the disease or changes the world; I just want to be the person who made someone feel welcome, feel normal and connect to someone walking in the same pair of shoes — something I feel like I’m achieving through Hot Shots.
And no small part of my desire to grow Hot Shots came from the DOC. It’s hard for me to believe that just last year, I was unaware of the fabulous online world for type 1 diabetics. I mean, even @nerdyaprilblog and @Arnold_and_Me are in my own back yard! And there are so many others nowhere near Huntsville that I can reach out to and lean on from time to time. To open up a webpage and read another person’s thoughts is so simple, but to read those thoughts and go, “Oh my gosh, me too!” is such a special feeling that I want everyone else to feel.
As humans, we need to be around other humans who share our interests and lifestyles. Diabetes is no different. We need the commonality as much as anyone else. Finding someone who “gets” it is something that makes my heart happy. And so I spend so much of my free time and so much of my life working behind the scenes to connect to others and help them connect to even more people.
The common denominator is pretty rotten, but the friendships it brings along with it are exceptional. Just ask @MoD4aCure — my partner in crime and my “sista from another mista.” (Hat Tip to Shannon for that).
So shamelessly, I’ll share about Hot Shots and redirect you to the website here. It’s a wonderful outreach group geared toward introducing type 1 families that wants absolutely nothing in return. It’s comprised of four local non-profits, all with different supporting missions for type 1 diabetes. Alphabetically, they are the American Diabetes Association, the Huntsville Hospital Foundation, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Southeastern Diabetes Education Services. All four are tremendous assets to this community, and I am thankful each agency is willing to work together for a bigger goal.
A small committee, which includes someone from all four agencies as well as parents and volunteers, plans and organizes events throughout the year. We have Family Fun events like ice skating and bowling. We offer MoD (Mother of Diabetic) lunches, parent lunches and adult coffee meetings. We host educational speakers and help parents, teachers and school nurses set up individual 504 plans for school-age children and even offer a tool-kit for parents to be informed. This Friday, we’ll host our first Teen Night, featuring dinner and a movie for teens 12-14 years old. It’s free for them and a friend. A few weeks later, we’ll host the same venture for teens 15-18 years old.
I’m so proud to be part of this organization, and I wish I could shout it from the rooftops. This post isn’t for a pat on the back, it’s so you will know there is something in the Huntsville area just for you. All four agencies involved host a variety of activities to get involved in, including mentor programs, fundraising walks, summer camps and so much more! I’m so happy and proud to be part of this adventure, and I’m so thankful to those families who realized the need was here and made it happen.
So if you want to know more, “Like” us on Facebook at Huntsville HotShots or follow us on Twitter @HsvHotShots. Visit the website here or e-mail HsvHotShots@gmail.com. We’d love to hear from you. And don’t forget to tell a friend! We’ll see you at the next event!