When a person living with T1D faces burnout, or gets frustrated and overwhelmed by the disease, all we need to jumpstart our "betes battery" is a little inspiration from an unexpected place, or a reminder the T1D community is a tight-knit family.
When I spoke with the founders of a nonprofit called Type 1 Willpower, located in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, they provided me with the jolt of inspiration I needed, both personally and professionally.
Type 1 Willpower was founded by an inspiring young person living with T1D, named Will, and his parents, Shaun and Joe. Just four years after diagnosis, Type 1 Willpower has already achieved 501(c)(3) status, started its own Turkey Trot, and donated more than $35,000 to various organizations, including $2,775 to ROI for five winter camp scholarships in 2019.
Read below for more about Type 1 Willpower from co-founder, Joe Oliver. Sean and I are super stoked to meet the family very soon in the Poconos to kick off the 2019 season.
William’s father, Joe, writes “William was diagnosed December 8, 2014 at the age of 4. He is now 8, turning 9 in February. His story is like many others. William started exhibiting many of the warning signs of Type 1 diabetes. His mom Shaun noticed and we took him to the doctor. Shaun caught it early, so his BG was "only" in the 400s at diagnosis. He is currently an Omnipod and Dexcom user.
In September 2016, we participated in a 5K to raise money for JDRF. On the drive home from the race, William asked, "Why can't we have a 5K in Mountain Lakes to raise money for Type 1 diabetes?" We then went to a jazz concert in NYC that had a $10,000 fundraising goal. William saw the event had raised $6,700, and told me that we only had to donate another $3,300 for them to reach their goal.
When I explained that that's not how it works, he wasn't satisfied. Finally, after his first year at Camp Nejeda, he exclaimed, "All kids with Type 1 diabetes should go to Camp Nejeda." After another economics lesson, William asked if we could pay for other kids to attend camp because "we have money".
At that point, it was clear to me and Shaun that we had to do more to help others living with Type 1 diabetes. Simply donating money to various causes was not going to be enough for William. So we formed Type 1 Willpower with a few family members and friends in June, and our history is currently being written. We're so proud to have donated more then $35,000 this year to various organizations.
As for meeting Benji, his parents live in our hometown of Mountain Lakes. When Benji came home for Thanksgiving break, he saw our lawn signs all over town advertising the inaugural Type 1 Willpower Turkey Trot. His mom called me and asked about our organization. I invited them to to join us and asked to get Benji and William together (learning that Benji plays lacrosse was a huge bonus as William loves to play the game). So we met on Thanksgiving morning and Benji told us all about Riding on Insulin and how impactful it can be for kids living with Type 1 diabetes. Your camps fit perfectly with our core mission, so it really was a no-brainer to donate a portion of our Turkey Trot proceeds to ROI.
We're really looking forward to the Pennsylvania camp. It will be William's first time snowboarding. He's a heck of an athlete and doesn't lack in confidence (but I'm still not sure that he has any idea what he's in for). Regardless, I know it's going to be so much fun.”