First, today is the third of six giveaways for the You Can Do This community, from Hope Paige Medical! In order to enter today's giveaway, you must leave a comment on the You Can Do This Project page that is timestamped with today's date. This week's winner will be announced tomorrow!
Second, I have a little announcement regarding the You Can Do This Project, but I'm saving it until tomorrow - which will mark one month since the project launched. (Woo!)
And third, I'll be sharing more thoughts on the Children With Diabetes Friends For Life conference next week - I still haven't covered most of what I want to share. Soooo much to share.
Finally, today's post...
My friend and fellow diabetes advocate Victoria sent me this post a few days ago, and it's my honor and pleasure to share it with you all today. Victoria and her community were hit with very severe tornado damage back in April, and she was instrumental in helping to secure supplies for those with diabetes who were affected by the storms. She credits our diabetes online community in helping her meet those needs in such a quick and well-equipped way, and wanted to extend her thanks here.
Take it away, Victoria!
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On Wednesday, April 27, so many lives were changed forever. In that one day, multiple tornadoes trekked across my state for hundreds of miles. The storms uprooted trees, demolished homes and destroyed entire towns. When sunlight emerged on Thursday, more than 240 lives were viciously taken in the storms’ wrath. As a print journalist, I knew early the devastation left behind by the storms.
I was immediately thrust into the epicenter of the storm’s damage. Along with my colleagues, we reported unfathomable news. Eight people in my county died and hundreds of homes and lives were destroyed. We watched as our community banded together to rescue those in need. We watched as strangers cut down trees, sorted through wind-scattered belongings and helped search for survivors.
Within hours of the storms, I was sent to the local Emergency Management Agency. I wanted to help with rescue efforts, but that wasn’t my job. So instead, I reported stories of sadness and loss speckled with the occasional goodness of others. After meeting a doctor with the local medical reserve corps, I realized there was a need I could meet.
The local medical clinic wasn’t equipped with enough diabetic supplies. What was available was expired. I knew that was something I could change. I went home and I grabbed every old meter I could find. (Sadly, I had some pretty ancient devices). I grabbed all the unopened strips I could spare, and I filled a bag with lancets, alcohol swabs and packaged syringes.
Once I arrived at the makeshift clinic, a nurse said they had a need for Novalog insulin. I made a call, and within the day, a brand new bottle of Novalog arrived at the clinic. I started handing out my cell phone number to anyone with a diabetes or medical connection. I passed it along to fire officials to police officers and even to complete strangers. I called my local JDRF and ADA offices, and they immediately jumped on board. I went home after work and started writing. I wrote about the devastation and the sadness. I wrote about the heartbreak and the loss. And I wrote about how so many volunteers turned out to help, but there was a major need not being met through diabetes supplies. So I asked a simple question: if you have unopened, unexpired supplies that could be used, could you send them to Alabama?
Kim’s package arrived first, just two days after the storms. She enclosed a note detailing the supplies, and the last line item said “And lots of DOC love.” I don’t think I stopped crying for about a week. Every day I returned home, I found piles of boxes outside my door. Then, my friends at JDRF started calling because they were receiving tons of boxes each day as well. Others tweeted and blogged about the need for supplies and before I knew it, my living room looked like a diabetic pharmacy. It was one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever seen in my life.
I’m still overwhelmed at the outpouring of love and support the DOC showed my community during those days and weeks after the storms. In addition to the damage the storms left behind, it also killed all power throughout the county for six days. No refrigeration, no lights, no gas, no pharmacies, no nothing. The supplies were literally, a life-saver.
I’m still getting emails and phone calls from people in the DOC! Because of the generosity of this community, we were able to send supplies to 12 counties in Alabama – 12! We were able to mail supplies to Oklahoma City and to Joplin, Mo. Now, we’re helping uninsured diabetics with the leftover supplies. I still feel a tear each time I think about it.
I share this story to say thank you. This happened because of you! It was the DOC! This community may be full of jokes about bacon and cheese. We may have an unhealthy affinity for cupcakes and pick an imaginary animal as our mascot – but we are very much a force to be reckoned with.
We speak at roundtable discussions to help share a personal side of diabetes. We march Capitol Hill so people know how loud our voice is. We advocate from all corners of the earth and we educate people on the different types of diabetes. We can even flood your inbox to teach you insulin-dependent diabetes is not an “extreme” form of diabetes. We participate in clinical trials, we blog about research and technology. Mostly, we share with the world that we can do anything you can do, we just need a few extra bionic parts.
We are an eclectic group of people from all walks of life. But we have one voice and after April 27, it was heard across Alabama loud and clear! I’m still working on individual thank you notes, but this is the best way I could think of to send a loud and proud THANK YOU!
Stop what you’re doing, pat yourself on the back and know you did something good. Know you saved someone’s life and know you’re still helping others in need! I have never been so proud to be affiliated with such an incredible group of people – and by all intents and purposes, complete strangers. I don’t care what anyone says or how crazy it makes me sound, but I love you all! You are my family, and you are an incredible and beautiful group of people.
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You can find Victoria blogging about her life with diabetes at http://www.victoriacumbow.com/, and on Twitter at @victoriacumbow.