We first met Sean and his wife, Mollie, last year at Friends for Life. They were there with Insulet. It's always exciting to meet a fellow OmniPod user, and Sean and Mollie were so gracious and friendly.
Just by chance earlier this year, I saw an article online about Riding On Insulin and how they would be conducting a ski and snowboard camp in Massachusetts - not too far from where we are in Connecticut.
No one in this house skis or snowboards. I've been on skis. In fact in high school I went down the slopes at Lake Placid - rather comical considering I had no training whatsoever - and survived. In college I remember this "new thing" where they took the board part of a skateboard and did something that resembled skiing with it. How old does that make me sound?
Thankfully, prior experience is not necessary for Riding On Insulin Camps. The only thing that is necessary is that you or a sibling have type 1 diabetes.
So without much thinking at all, I signed up Colin and Caleb (Lila unfortunately didn't make the age cutoff of seven). We had the choice of skiing or snowboarding. We opted for snowboarding because well, that's what Sean does!
The website has a lot of great information including FAQs that were on my mind. The camp is a day long and the night before there is an orientation that was super helpful. They explained that bgs would be checked often. A medical professional would be on hand. Home-base was set up in an easily accessible place inside. I definitely felt comfortable that things would go well. I can't say I wasn't a little nervous, but really not much. We had been to Caleb's endo just a couple weeks prior and we talked about his dosing plan for the day. Caleb's doctor was familiar with the camp and told me something like "they do a really good job". So really, the worries were little.
Caleb and Colin went out and learned the fundamentals of snowboarding from Sean himself. I was able to watch. I got to see them go up. Come down. Go up again. Come down again. At the beginning there was a lot of falling. I was impressed with how comfortable they all were and how quickly they learned.
They broke for lunch - carb info labeled everywhere - and went back out to the "big" slope. Boo hiss, Caleb had a low and got an escort down the hill on a snowmobile. He recovered. Colin stumbled and bent his finger back - hard. But he got up and made his way down the hill with little complaint. On his own he sought ice. His hand swelled up, but he insisted on going back up and down and up and down that hill to the very end. (We learned the next day he broke his finger.)
Spirits were high, bgs were checked, adjustments made as necessary and slopes were conquered.
It was a great day and topped off with a wonderful, casual banquet. Sean spoke to the crowd about his life as a snowboarder and about his diagnosis story. We've all heard lots of diagnosis stories and not many of them are a simple "I happened to notice my thirst and urine frequency increased and so I sought medical advice and was diagnosed with diabetes." But good golly, Sean's story is truly unbelievable. Up against several instances of misdiagnosis, Sean somehow managed to survive, and come out on the other side ready to meet penguins in Antarctica.
He explained that he started Riding On Insulin because he was inspired by the stories of kids who are living with diabetes and he wants to give back.
I've said before, the people we meet with type 1 diabetes are among the nicest people on earth. Sean and Mollie fit that bill. It is so obvious their intentions are to empower kids with diabetes. It is so clear that they understand how powerful it is to show these kids that they can do great things like snowboarding. They show kids by doing, by educating, by sincerely caring.
Opportunities to meet inspiring people like Sean and see firsthand the amazing things he is capable of are THE reason that we are able to cope and manage diabetes in our lives and keep it in its proper place. These experiences are the epitome of empowerment. We are so fortunate to have been able to take part in them. "Thanks", will never be enough.
We fully support Sean and Mollie and all that Riding On Insulin does. We intend to go back to Riding On Insulin - East Coast next year and Lila will be old enough to join Colin and Caleb!!
An added bonus for me, I was able to meet a special mom whose D-Kid was a counselor for ROI for the day. He was in charge of a group of skiers, so Colin and Caleb didn't get to spend time with him - perhaps next year!
Please visit the Riding On Insulin website to learn how you can get involved, either by attending, volunteering or sponsoring the great work they do.