A Note from Exec-
Why Dawgs for Diabetes is Important to Me-
By: Mindy Bartleson, President
I can remember seeing it for the first time on my facebook account- Dawgs for Diabetes. I was in high school and a junior at the time. I still didn’t know where I wanted to go to school, but I was deep in my searching process. When I found out about D4D, the excitement swelled within me. The idea that there would be something for me when I got to college gave me hope.
Even if I didn’t go to UGA, maybe I could find another Diabetes organization or start one?
Who knows if this played a role in my decision to go to the University of Georgia, but I am so glad I did. I have loved my experience at UGA.
The reason this is so important to me? I want a Diabetes community wherever I go. What I do, is how I “deal” with Diabetes. I want future college students to come to college and have that Diabetes community. In high school, I felt forgotten during the school year (camp is only one week out of the year, but that does go far). I wasn’t a “cute little kid” with Diabetes anymore. I was becoming a young adult. I was looking towards the future and my interests had changed.
The support group in my area had all but dissipated. All the events I attended were child oriented, and I felt I didn’t fit in or belong. Two things remained Camp and the idea that there was an organization waiting for me in college. Those two things kept me going and kept me optimistic about diabetes.
From what I’ve heard over the years and from what I see, this is a common occurrence- a common feeling among people living with Type 1 as we get older. I call it getting lost in the system now, or the forgotten group. We are important though, our diabetes management and how we see diabetes as future adults remains important. I feel lucky in that sense, and I want others to have that. I want high schoolers to know there is an organization waiting for them. I want them to know that world still cares. But the college community is only a small part of the Diabetes community. I hope that all the work that the College Diabetes Network does will create a ripple effect that will benefit high school students and those who decide college is not for them because they’re also important. They shouldn’t get lost either. I’ve heard people say they have tried this. I’ve heard people say our age group is too difficult. In my opinion, stuff can be done for our age group so we don’t get lost, and CDN is a step in the right direction.
I brought back Dawgs for Diabetes January 2013, and I got to work. I was lucky to have people before me (who had sadly already graduated), who began the path for me. Without that, I don’t know where I would be today. The meetings throughout that semester contained just myself or the occasional person. We held percentage nights to bring in funds to help us run. Myself and a few friends held a bake sale to raise money and eyebrows. As I went from almost empty meeting to empty meeting, I grew discouraged. I was advertising as much as possible. In late March, I sent out over 50 emails to different organizations, professors, majors, and the like to find volunteers for camp. The feedback I received was incredible. Many people were interested in camp and D4D. We held a camp interest meeting, and over 15 people attended. The fact that these were 15 strangers were incredible; not friends from camp, not my own friends, not people I had talked to before.
My discouragement began to fade. In April, I received an email from the College Diabetes Network reaching out to Dawgs for Diabetes. A great friendship was created that day, one that I am forever grateful for. The fact that I knew that there were other organizations all over the country and a national organization gave me hope- I wasn’t alone, and this was possible.
That’s just the beginning of my story with D4D which continues to grow to this day. I love watching D4D grow, and I cannot wait to see how far it goes- even after I graduate. I care about this organization so much and what we want to do. It hasn’t been “easy,” but even after all the comments; all the empty meetings; all the email sending, all the planning, and all the hair pulling that my roommate gets to witness- I know I will be able to say that this is all worth it. It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t work. I’ve also learned that people want different things out of an organization. Without all the support I receive from friends, family, the diabetes community, and D4D members/Alumni, I don’t know where I would be today. I am so excited for the upcoming school year for Dawgs for Diabetes. We are still growing, but we have come so far already.
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