Meet the YPLC! – Sarah Rickert-Poppler

Who are you?

I’m Sarah Marie. I am on the finance and strategic partnership committees. I have been involved with the Young Professional Leadership Group (YPLC) for over a year.


A little bit about me!

In 2011, I graduated from MSU-Mankato with a major in Corporate Finance and minors in Accounting and Business Administration. Recently, I graduated from Capella University with my Masters in Business Administration (MBA) with a specialization in Corporate Finance. I work as a financial analyst at Prime Therapeutics. Prime Therapeutics is a Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) for Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance plans. I love working for a company whose mission is ‘To help people get the medicine they need to feel better and live well.’

In my free time I enjoy working out, training for races, binge watching Netflix, reading, knitting, and hanging out with family and friends.


What is your connection to diabetes?

My connection to diabetes goes way back. Since I grew up in a nursing household I knew at a young age about diabetes and its effects on others. I even worked in the healthcare industry world for almost eight years before I truly knew how much diabetes affects a person as well as their family and friends. In 2011, I started dating my husband then boyfriend at the time (Trevor) who is a diabetic. He taught me about diabetes even more than I would have learned in any healthcare setting, and he also taught me how to carb count. I also work with a few Type 1s and they appreciate the respect and knowledge I have of the disease. We all work together in battling this disease, but we still live a very normal and active life!


How did you end up joining the YPLC?

I met a former YPLC member at the Tour de Cure event where I was volunteering. Since I have family and friends with the disease I was thrilled to join a group whose mission is to cure diabetes. She put me in contact with Sean Finn to join the newly developed club.


What do you hope to take away from your work at the YPLC?

I hope to make a positive difference in the fight to end diabetes. I do this by volunteering at events and at Camp Needlepoint, raising awareness in the community as well as in the workplace, and lastly, to build new relationships through networking opportunities.

Meet the YPLC! – Kunal Tandon


Who are you?

I’m Kunal Tandon.  I’m the finance chair of the YPLC and one of the two leads on college connect.


A little bit about me!

I graduated from the University of Minnesota with a major in Finance and a minor in Accounting.  I currently work as financial analyst at SMC, which is medical device company located in Somerset, WI.

I’m unfortunately a die-hard Buffalo Bills fan, but thankfully I have the Yankees to offset my misery.  In my spare time, I enjoy playing golf (when the weather cooperates in Minnesota), working out, watching sports, and hanging out with friends.


What is your connection to diabetes?

I was diagnosed in March of 2009 with Type 1 diabetes.  Therefore diabetes impacts my life in every aspect.  However, in the grand scheme of things, diabetes is one of the more easier chronic illnesses to manage and it has not stopped from leading an active and healthy lifestyle(touch wood).


How did you end up joining the YPLC?

I met Sean Finn, who is one of the co-founders of the YPLC at a house party.  Naturally, as Type 1 diabetic I joined the group shortly after in Feb, 2015.


What do you hope to take away from your work at the YPLC?

To make a positive difference by helping fundraise, and offer advocacy and support in the Minnesota diabetes community.  The YPLC is unique in that it’s run in similar fashion to a big cooperation, but also led by 20 dedicated individuals that share the passion for stopping diabetes as I do.  I look to strengthen these relationships, build new ones from networking, and apply my learnings to the real world.

Meet the YPLC! – Jacob Melson



Who are you?

Hello, my name is Jacob Melson.  I’m brand new to the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) Young Professional Leadership Council (YPLC), and a member of the YPLC’s Diabetes Prevention Group.


A little bit about me!

For over five years I have worked as the Behavioral Health Epidemiologist at Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Epidemiology Center, which serves the 34 Tribes, four urban programs, and three service units in the Bemidji Indian Health Service Area.  Many of the public health grants and contracts I work on focus on either alcohol and other drug abuse or mental health issues.  When I am not collaborating with Tribes to help them collect and analyze data, I enjoy being active, riding my bicycle, and spending time with family and friends.


What is your connection to diabetes?

Diabetes runs in my family.  My late grandpa was a Type 1 Diabetic, and I have been a Type 1 Diabetic for over 25 years.  Although I have struggled with Diabetes most of my life and lived through countless highs and lows, I am grateful for the advances in technology and support of family, friends, and the ADA community. I am feel fortunate to have an insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor, which is particularly helpful since I have Hypoglycemia Unawareness.


How did you end up joining the YPLC?

I first heard about the YPLC while volunteering at the ADA’s Step Out: Walk to Fight Diabetes.  I was interested in learning more and potentially being part of the YPLC because I had previously had positive experiences volunteering for and participating in other ADA events, such as Tour de Cure and Camp Needlepoint.  Therefore, I decided to apply to be part of the YPLC and attended my first YPLC meeting in January 2016.


What do you hope to take away from your work at the YPLC?

I hopeful that volunteering with the YPLC is beneficial to both the YPLC and myself.  I am excited that the YPLC is relatively new and that members have the opportunity to influence and shape various ADA and YPLC initiatives.  After volunteering at Camp Needlepoint last summer, I am particularly interested in how Camp Needlepoint could potentially collect and use data, which could benefit the campers and staff.  In addition, I am looking forward to getting to know and collaborate with YPLC members and others, since you can’t have too many Diabetic friends!

Meet the YPLC! – Lauren Evans


Who are you?

Hi everyone! My name is Lauren Evans and I am the chair of the marketing committee in the Young Professional Leadership Council. I’ve been a part of the YPLC for over a year and really enjoy the opportunities it provides.


A little bit about me!

I graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 2014 with my elementary and special education degree. I work in an infant room at a daycare and absolutely love it! When I’m not working, I enjoy reading, photography and videography, and hanging out with friends. I’m also busy planning for my July 2016 wedding!


What is your connection to diabetes?

I have had Type 1 diabetes for half of my life, being diagnosed when I was 13 years old. I started working as a counselor at Camp Needlepoint when I was 19 and have been back every summer, as well as CNP’s sister camp, Camp Sioux, in North Dakota. For the past few years, I have been dubbed camp’s “social media guru,” live updating via Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook during camp. I love being able to share camp memories with family and friends at home and giving parents a glimpse into the camp magic that their campers are experiencing!


How did you end up joining the YPLC?

The YPLC seemed like a natural transition for me to continue being involved with the ADA. The founder has also been a friend of mine for years and asked if I would be interested in joining. I’m so glad I did! I’ve had the great opportunity to run the YPLC’s social media pages, ride in my first ever Tour de Cure, become the Camp Needlepoint Step Out Walk team captain in 2015, and meet so many wonderful people.


What do you hope to take away from your work at the YPLC?

I hope that I can continue to make an impact in my community through various YPLC activities. I hope that I can use the amazing volunteer opportunities to better not only myself, but others that live with or love someone with diabetes. And mostly, I hope to have fun!

Meet the YPLC! – Brad Masson


Who are you?

I’m Brad Masson. I’m a member of the Marketing team on the Young Professional Leadership Council (YPLC) and one of the general overseer’s of the Diabetes MN blog, posting on behalf of the YPLC.

A little bit about me!

I’m a recent graduate from the University of Minnesota Duluth with a bachelors degree in history. I currently work in the healthcare industry as an account manager with Medicare reimbursement at McKesson. I’m originally from the Chicago area, but I’ve been living in Minnesota and the Twin Cities since 1999. I spend most of my free time writing and reading, watching hockey and motorsports, and just hanging out with my friends in general.

What is your connection to diabetes?

I personally am not a diabetic. In fact, there isn’t much of a personal history of diabetes in my own family. Up until recently, the only person I knew with diabetes was my current roommate, which was really my only connection with diabetes at the time. Living with someone who has diabetes not only requires some basic knowledge of what to do in the event of an emergency, it allows me to learn and witness a lifestyle that differs greatly from my own.

How did you end up joining the YPLC?

My roommate is one of the founders of the YPLC, and invited me to join back in March of last year. From there, I joined the Marketing team at the YPLC and have helped volunteer at and promote some of our bigger events in the Twin Cities, such as the Tour de Cure, Step Out, and the promotion of Camp Needlepoint.

What do you hope to take away from your work at the YPLC?

Personally, I think the biggest takeaway from working with the YPLC is not only being a part of something bigger than myself, but also helping to create it. We’re attempting to establish a footprint not only in the community, but especially in our community’s youth. I also hope to establish long lasting connections and improve on my current skillset for the future.

Happy New Year from the YPLC!


Hello all! All of us here at the Young Professional Leadership Council hope you had a fun and safe New Year’s this January. We’re looking forward to working with you all at our 2016 events and out in the community! Over the coming months, we’ll be introducing some brand new content for you, including more regular weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly features and more emphasis on both ourselves as individual personalities as well as personalities out in the community.

Here is a current list of which events the YPLC will be working and volunteering at. Make sure to stop by and say hello!For all of the ADA events scheduled for 2016, click here.

Step Out – Duluth, MN (YPLC College Connection, University of Minnesota Duluth) – April 9th, 2016

Twin Cities Tour de Cure – June 4th, 2016

Twin Cities Step Out – September 24th, 2016

Minneapolis Diabetes EXPO – October 15th, 2016

You can also follow us online via Facebook,. Twitter, and Instagram!

Thanks again for all of your support!

What Is The “Connection?”

Hello all! The ADA and the YPLC are working together to help spread awareness of diabetes, and part of that outreach for the YPLC is a focus on young adults and college students. The ADA College Connection provides college students with a chance to work in the community to help spread the awareness and stop diabetes. This past week I had a chance to interview Kelsey Reckinger, a current student at the University of Minnesota Duluth and the founder and leader of the ADA College Connection group at UMD.

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 3. Diabetes has always been something that I have struggled with but being involved with walks and Camp Needlepoint for 10 years has gave me so many great friends and amazing opportunities. I am a sophomore at the University of Minnesota Duluth, my current major is Communications with a Public Health and Promotion minor.


 Q: What exactly is the YPLC College Connection?

KR: The YPLC ADA College Connection is a group that is going to be run through college campuses around Minnesota and North Dakota and hoping to spread nationwide in the future with the support of the American Diabetes Association. The mission of the crews is to raise awareness about Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, advocate diabetes, and fundraise money for the ADA.

Q: What gave you the inspiration to start College Connection on your campus?

KR: I have been a type 1 diabetic for about 16 and half years. I have always been an active member in participating in walks and I have been a camper and now I’m currently a counselor at Camp Needlepoint. When Sean Finn, the chair of the YPLC, approached me with this idea to start a campus crew all about diabetes, how could I not say yes? Helping children and families who fight this disease that I have been fighting too has always been a passion of mine. I want to help in any way I can and help make a difference in the lives of the 30 million Americans fighting diabetes. Starting the ADA College Connection crew gives me the perfect chance to make a difference in many lives and do something that I have a deep passion for.

Q: What events or activities does the College Connection group plan on doing in the near future?

KR: I am currently in the process of starting the ADA college connection group up at the University of Minnesota Duluth. We are still recruiting people to join and in the early stages, but starting right away for spring semester we hope to take off. We have two ideas for events during the spring semester. One is the ADA Step Out walk up here in Duluth on April 9th. The walk is being held at UMD this year and I hope to start up a team on campus and get as many students involved as possible and raise money. Another event that we are thinking of doing is a dodge ball tournament to get students involved and have it be a fun day of awareness and fundraising. We want to call the event “Dodge out Diabetes.” I believe this event will help raise awareness about our crew and get people interested while also raising money for the ADA.

Q: What is the overall goal for College Connection?

KR: Our main goal is to raise awareness. Many people do not realize how many people in our generation are at risk for diabetes. Just getting people more aware of diabetes, type 1 and type 2 could have a huge impact and that is what we want to do.

Q: I’m interested! Where and how do I sign up? Or how can I start a College Connection on my own campus?

KR: If you are interested in joining an ADA college connection group, we have groups starting up at University of Minnesota, University of North Dakota, Mankato State, and University of Minnesota Duluth. If you are interested in starting an ADA College Connection on your campus, you can contact Kunal Tandon at

Well there you have it! If you are interested in joining the college connection, please feel free to reach out to us at the information above, or leave us a comment, and we’ll be happy to help you out!

Help Us Share the Joy to Camp Sioux!

Do you or a loved one go to a diabetes camp?! If so, then you know how special they are. Even life saving!

One of these camps is Camp Sioux, located in North Dakota. It’s a camp for children aged 8-15 living with diabetes run by the American Diabetes Association.

The purpose of Camp Sioux is to provide a fun and safe camping experience for children living with diabetes. We want to give kids the opportunity to meet other kids just like them as well as help them gain confidence and independence in managing their diabetes.

The average cost per camper is close to $1,400. However, we strive to keep fees under $200 per camper. Financial assistance is also available. I’ve submitted a video to a contest with the hopes of winning $5,000 for this camp! This would send 25 kids to camp!

Can you PLEASE help SHARE THE JOY?! All you need to do is click this link and vote for the video titled “Share The Joy! [Camp Sioux].”

Thank you for sharing the joy!

– Lauren Evans, ADA YPLC Marketing Chair

School, Sports, and Diabetes!

Meet Dakota Egert. He’s in fifth grade. He plays football, basketball and soccer. He likes to hang out with friends on the weekend. He likes to ride his bike and scooter outside. He was also diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in August of 2014. School, sports, diabetes… how does he deal with it all?


How’s the school year going, Dakota?

Actually, really great! Fifth grade is funner. We get to switch rooms and there’s a lot more history than all the other grades. We get to do more science and a lot more reading.


The football season just ended and the basketball season is underway. Do your teammates know that you have diabetes?

Yes, because they’re my friends and I’ve been to their sleepovers before and they’ve seen me check my blood sugar and give myself shots.


How do you deal with a low blood sugar while playing sports?

My coaches already know that I have diabetes so I just ask if I could go take a break. I tell them if my blood sugar is low. And then I go over to wherever my stuff is and I check my blood sugar and eat. I keep juice and fruit snacks and granola bars in my bag.


Do you notice a difference in how you play depending on your blood sugar?

Yes. When my blood sugar is low I usually don’t play as well. When I’m high I kind of feel lousy. I kind of feel like slow and want to go lay down.


When you were first diagnosed, did you parents come into school to talk about diabetes to your teachers or classmates?

Yeah, my mom came in and talked to my teachers.


How does lunch work? Do you go to the nurse to check your blood sugar?

Yeah I go to the nurse to test before lunch. Sometimes the nurses don’t know better than I do and I go lower. Then I have to go back and eat something. One of the nurses has diabetes.


Do you bring your own lunch or count your own carbs for the school lunch?

Both, depends on what’s for lunch. For school lunch, they have nutritional information at the nurse for it. My favorite school lunch is a hamburger.


What piece of advice would you give a fifth grader that was newly diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and dealing with school and sports?

I would just tell them it doesn’t matter whatever you’re doing in the classroom and you should tell the people that you usually sit with why you have to do something. If you take shots, then they usually think you are super brave and they get freaked out and they let you do your thing. In sports, you should tell your coach and your teammates so they know.


Thanks for chatting with us Dakota! Good luck with the basketball season!

-Lauren Evans, YPLC Marketing Chair

Breaking Down Myths About Diabetes

With Halloween season rolling around, It always brings costumes, parties, scary movies, and of course, a great loot of candy from trick or treating. No Halloween day is complete without all the treats brought into school, and the many days following, of bringing candy from trick or treating as part of lunch.

There are a lot of misconceptions about diabetes, and a lot of them can show up at school, and involving food. Especially around Halloween, with all the treats being around, the misconception that always popped up the most was “oh you have diabetes, you can’t have this candy.” While the sentiment of kids and teachers being aware of diabetes is nice, theres obviously a huge, and actually harmful misunderstanding happening.

A misconception like that leads to an idea that having diabetes completely restricts any kind of choice for what you can, or can’t eat. A comment of being told that you can’t do something because of having diabetes is very excluding, especially from someone whom isn’t diabetic. It is particularly excluding during a time when things like candy and treats play a part in the parties and social events of Halloween.

Like many aspects of diabetes, this misconception of candy being forbidden, is one we can work to correct by letting people know what diabetes is, and isn’t. While diet and management of diabetes is an everyday task, It is very important to remind ourselves, and others that diabetes is not a exclusion from partaking in things like Halloween parties and social events, or smaller things like having some candy, diabetes is living life to the fullest while doing the best you can to manage this disease and educate others!

– Joe Kinney