PORTLAND - Wednesday is World Diabetes Day and more than 100 countries held events to raise awareness. In Portland free health screenings were held at OHSU.
Former Trailblazer Chris Dudley was there along with Steelers Super Bowl Champ Kendall Simmons. Both athletes are Type 1 Diabetics who require an insulin pump to make up for what their pancreas doesn’t produce.
“Technology has gotten better and I don’t miss insulin shots. At one time I calculated I had required 55 thousand injections,” Dudley remarked.
Kendall Simmons managed a pro career after being diagnosed during his second season.
“I tell kids all the time they learn more about their bodies from diabetes than they learn playing sports. It teaches you to push forward,” he said.
George Fox college student Kelsey Tullis learned to push forward by attending the camp for diabetic kids offered by the Chris Dudley Foundation.
“I was 10 the first time I went and suddenly I was surrounded by people who knew just how I felt,” she recalled.
“I think the natural emotion is why me? I know I felt that,” remembered Dudley who was diagnosed at 16.
Dudley encourages kids at the August camp to manage their diabetes while still playing sports.
“It can be a challenge because of the changes in blood sugar,” he explained, “but exercise is important for diabetics.”
Kelsey played basketball in high school and now enjoys skiing.
“I can live a normal life,” she said. “The Chris Dudley Foundation changed the way I look at being diabetic.”
She is now a counselor at the camp and is studying camp administration in college hoping to one day work full time with diabetic children.
“It’s so great so see Kelsey pay it forward, taking what she learned and helping others. It’s what life is all about,” concluded Dudley.