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I became diabetic in the summer of 1995. I was only 12 years old and overwhelmed with this new disease I had to live with the rest of my life. I learned that the Lions Club had a summer camp for diabetic kids. I attended the camp for the next two years as a camper. I remember thinking to myself, “all these kids are just like me and it's awesome”. Growing up as a kid with diabetes was tough because there was no one else like me at my school. Attending camp for those couple weeks gave me a feeling of normalcy as a kid.
I became a nurse in 2004 but it wasn’t until 2009 that a friend, who is also diabetic, asked me if I wanted to join her as a staff nurse at ADA Camp Victory. I immediately signed up but was somewhat hesitant because my wife and I just had our first newborn son. My wife, who is also a nurse, was very understanding and supportive because she knew the impact the camp had on me when I was younger. I attended that year and have annually since. Being able to educate, have fun, and relate to all the kids during camp is very rewarding. Since then my wife has also volunteered as a staff nurse and now it holds a special place in her heart as well.
My wife and I have 2 sons, Addison and Parker, and 1 daughter, Iris. Addison and Parker have attended every year with us once they were camper age and little Iris even came to play a day or two last year, she loved it! Even though they are not diabetic, they have learned to make proper food choices, how to count carbs, and even how to draw up insulin. They have made many friends and many memories just as I did when I was a kid and I attended. I hope when they get older that they choose to become counselors at the Lions Club summer camps.
The impact that the Lions Camp and ADA Camp Victory has made on my family and I has been tremendous. It has been an honor for me to give back to the campers and also have the opportunity to make a difference in their lives. I have seen campers grow up to be counselors, counselors grow up to become successful adults, and have made many lifelong friendships that I cherish deeply.