When I think about the Step Out Walk it takes me right back to three years ago; days after my then 14 year old son Colton was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I remember the feeling of helplessness and to be honest, despair. When people ask me about the experience of leaving the hospital after Colton was diagnosed I always tell them, “It was like falling with out a safety net.”
I was honestly more scared to take him home after his diagnosis then when he was first born. I had amazing family support, in fact my cousin David who is now 13 was diagnosed at age 4, so I had been around diabetes before and I knew it was manageable. Everything changes however, when it is your child. To make me feel even worse, my son was taking it like a champ! He learned the routine right away. He’d give himself shots and appeared to have adjusted perfectly; why couldn’t I?
At his first doctor appointment, a week after leaving the hospital, I had spotted a brochure. It was the Diabetes walk brochure. Believe it or not, that brochure changed everything for me. I read the brochure cover to cover and what caught my eye the most was the fact the people in the brochure appeared to be happy.
I wanted happy…
I decided right then and there that sitting around and watching my son’s every move was not doing either of us any good. Participating in this walk and raising money to fight for a cure was something that could help make us both feel good. I didn’t even wait until I got home. As soon as the appointment was over I started making calls to my friends and family telling them to save the date and that together we were going to make a difference. We did our first walk 5 weeks after Colton was diagnosed, that was 3 years, 4 walks, 1 ambassador, and over $6,000 ago.
Believe me, it didn’t stop there either.
After our first walk we set a goal to be a top team the following year. I also applied for Colton to be the Walk Youth Ambassador. When I got the news Colton was actually chosen to be the ambassador, that just turned my drive up even more. That year I attended the walk planning meeting. I got involved in every aspect of the walk that I could. Colton did several radio ads and together we did a TV interview. The more involved I got, Colton got, the more it became “our thing”. We looked forward to the meetings and our time together working on the walk. Our second year we had amazing team shirts made with Colton’s Cavalry proudly displayed across our chest. My husband came up with the name and it was perfect. Being the ambassador was such a good experience for Colton. I literally watch him embrace his disease and appreciate what he has been doing for diabetes awareness.
And yes, we were a top team that year! It is not often I don’t do something that I set my mind to.
By the third walk we had really started to bond with the ADA staff; specifically Jennifer & Becky. In my eyes, they were no longer ADA staff but they were my friends. I look forward to our meetings and the work that we do together. I no longer feel like a volunteer. I feel like I am helping out good friends. I could not even begin to describe the friendship that Colton has with them. I really do not think there is anything he would not try to do for them. That includes getting up at 4:30 am to do a TV interview during spring break, when he wasn’t the ambassador and it was not specifically his responsibility to do so. That year they even convinced him to go to camp as a counselor in training, something I had been begging him to do from the get go. That was just one more door that opened up because of a little tri-fold brochure in the Dr’s office.
This past year we took on bigger roles with the planning of the walk. I took on the raffle portion of our walk, securing donations, arranging pick ups, and setting up the raffle area. This year Colton did the metro walk as well as our Duluth walk and he is going to be doing his senior project on the walk and the fundraising efforts of the ADA. The highlight of this years walk was when Becky showed us the camp slideshow that was playing at the ADA camp table. As I watched the cute presentation with all of the pictures of the kids and the activities they do at camp and remembering why it was such an amazing place, I thought to myself how fortunate we were to have been a part of all this. Then came the big surprise, the last slide was Colton’s grad picture with the caption “and our counselors are really cute!” I think Colton just about hit the floor! It was great to see him brought to his knees by these amazing ladies and the perfect prank! I wonder if Duluth’s female camp attendance will go up this year!? Colton will be graduating in a few months and turning 18. My mother asked if he was going to “retire” from the walk and pass the torch on to his cousin David. Without even taking a breath he said “heck no!” I breathed a sign of relief; I honestly can not imagine not being involved with the walk. My time is a very small sacrifice for all that the ADA has given me.