This is part of our story from last year’s World Diabetes Day. We are currently in the planning phases of this year’s School Blue-nity event which will be a little bigger and hopefully at least a little bit better.
When my son’s principal and I discussed holding a school spirit day to recognize World Diabetes Day, I imagined it coming and going like other ones – rather uneventfully. I am happy to say that was not the case.
Our plan was to ask students and staff to wear blue and donate a dollar to support a cure for type 1 diabetes. My son, Caleb, is living with diabetes, and the hope was to increase awareness. Simple enough.
It turned into so much more than that. I was able to personally draft a message to explain what World Diabetes Day is and a little about what living with diabetes is like. Caleb was invited to announce the event over the loudspeaker in the principal’s office. He was asked to count the dollars that were collected. He was given the privilege of announcing the fundraising results and his thanks.
The impact was palpable. Every staff member was donned in blue, several from head to toe. Most students were dressed in blue. I saw several that know and are friends with Caleb and I smiled knowing they did this for him, because they care for him. I saw children who Caleb does not know and I thought they did this simply because they were asked to, and maybe they now know a little bit more about diabetes. Or maybe they have a loved one living with diabetes and they did it in honor of them. In any case, there was a sea of blue swarming through Caleb’s school and it made us feel good.
It was unifying.
During the day, Caleb followed his normal routine and he had blood sugars that were less than cooperative. The school nurse commented how he couldn’t even catch a break on his special day. She too, however, has come to realize that diabetes does not give any breaks. She followed her empathetic statement with, “well that’s just diabetes, isn’t it?”
Yes it is.
What Caleb will remember though, is not the less than perfect blood sugar readings. He will remember being special for a day. He told me his favorite part was making the announcements to everyone at school. He proudly listed all the teachers who now know him and call him by name. He will remember his friends who wore blue and gave dollars to show their respect for him and all people living with diabetes.
The day was a great success. I am grateful to all those who took part in it and who support Caleb at school every day in such a caring way.
We are already planning how to build upon this event for next year.
Originally published at http://www.wddusa.org – November 2009.