Personal Connections on World Diabetes Day

For the past three years we have celebrated World Diabetes Day as a community at Caleb’s school. Each year has been a little different.

There were three things that made 2011 unique: supporting Team Type 1, making a human blue circle and meeting Mr. B.

These were all special nuances to Caleb, but perhaps the most impactful one on this day was meeting Mr. B. He is the husband of Caleb’s teacher. He came in to visit with Caleb just for World Diabetes Day. Caleb and Mr. B. both love baseball. They are both fans of the New York Yankees. They are both living with type 1 diabetes.

I went into school during Caleb’s lunch period while his awareness video was being shown. I saw Mr. B chatting with Caleb. I saw Caleb’s smile. They spoke about baseball. Mr. B showed Caleb his insulin pump. Mr. B shared with Caleb what it was like for him growing up with diabetes. He told him he thought Caleb was brave because he’s so open about his diabetes.

Caleb has had a great school year with Mrs. B. Having someone who understands, who is accepting, who isn’t afraid and does not panic makes all the difference in the world for a student with diabetes. Our children cannot help but be singled out at school. There are things that they must do that their peers do not. Things that, despite our best efforts to normalize their school day, are indiscrete. Things that are simply non-negotiable and we cannot change them.

Spending his school days with someone like Mrs. B, who gets it, means that Caleb can focus on being a student first. He can focus on his favorite books, enjoy the new world of science uncovered for him, be challenged in his math group, play his violin, and joke with his friends.

It lets Caleb just be Caleb. A boy who, like his peers, has many dimensions. One just happens to be living with diabetes, like his new friend, Mr. B.

Another great teacher: Mrs. Muller | The Standard

Mr. and Mrs. B, Caleb, Lila, Nurse M and Mrs. Muller are in the upper right part of the blue circle.
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Super Class Moms – World Diabetes Day | Friend Parade

Fellow Class Moms Dawne and Gigi with Caleb holding his special note

For the past three years, we have held awareness events at Caleb’s school for World Diabetes Day. This year, in addition to asking friends to wear blue, we collected dollars to support the efforts of Team Type 1 in Rwanda.

We did our usual – created an awareness flyer and made daily announcements at school. The community answered and we were able to contribute $500 and 600 test strips to Team Type 1’s cause.

I was on campus that day and was touched to see so many people wearing blue. I even noticed my friends and fellow class moms, Gigi and Dawne, were there, sporting their blue. “How nice,” I thought, “that they remembered to wear blue today.”

I was taking care of a few things in conjunction with the awareness video we showed the students and Gigi asked me if I would be heading to the classroom. I said, sure. I was a little confused trying to think of what was happening in class that day that I couldn’t remember.

I eventually made my way back to class where Gigi, Dawne and the class were waiting. They presented Caleb with a special note signed by each of them with the following sentiment:

In honor of our friend and classmate, Caleb Schlissel, for his dedication to the Team Type 1 project to help the children in Rwanda, we would like to donate $40 as a class to show our support and friendship.

Caleb and his family are helping less fortunate children receive the proper medications and supplies they need to manage their diabetes on a daily basis.

Way to go, Caleb!!!!

We had asked people to wear blue and contribute a dollar to the cause. Caleb’s class raised more than twice that and accounted for the biggest class donation of all the campus.

I was so surprised and touched that they would go out of their way and come into school just for Caleb. In retrospect, I really should not have been. They are wonderful moms and good friends. As I sit here today, five months later, I still get choked up by their thoughtfulness.

Thank you, Gigi and Dawne, for your kindness and generosity. It is a comfort and a blessing to have you as neighbors and friends. This will always be a special memory for Caleb and me.