“I thought, ‘What the heck is going on here?’ Janette remembered. “And I mentioned it to a friend of mine who said it sounded familiar and might be a sign of juvenile diabetes. So I made an appointment with a doctor right away, and lo and behold—it was diabetes.”
Adam was diagnosed with Type I juvenile diabetes at age 10 and has been living with the disease ever since.
Always an active family, Adam and his parents started raising money for and riding in the Tour de Cure, a fundraising bicycle ride sponsored by the American Diabetes Association [ADA].
“[Adam] raised funds for five years for the Tour de Cure and it was great—everyone is doing wonderful things, both the ADA and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation are doing wonderful things and trying to find a cure—but these kids still have to live with it day to day,” Janette said. “They don’t get a break and they get left out of some things. We do our best to make sure Adam isn’t left out—he hasn’t given up his level of activity and his adventure in life to this disease, but there are things that are different.”
“I’m getting it under control,” said Adam, who is now 16 years old and heading into his junior year of high school. “But I’m growing and it’s just sometimes completely tough to predict, because you can do everything right and your blood sugar can still be really high or go really low because there’s so many different things that go into effect. So that’s been pretty tough, but otherwise it really could be worse.”
Adam first went to Camp Aspire, a weeklong overnight camp put on by the ADA for children with diabetes, around five years ago. The camp provides 24/7 medical care for the kids, which is important for the children who need monitoring of their blood sugar levels even through the night.
“I was a little bit nervous going to camp for the first time,” Adam said. “When I got there it was really easy to fit in—everyone is really nice there, and more importantly there’s a whole diabetic community there.”
Though Adam enjoyed participating in and raising money for the Tour de Cure, he decided he wanted to do something to help kids with diabetes more directly.
“After I went to camp, I kept doing the Tour de Cure—I felt it was helping the general diabetic population, but I wanted to help people more directly, especially kids with Type I,” Adam said.
An idea was born: to try and raise enough money to send two children with diabetes to Camp Aspire so they could experience an overnight summer camp.
His plan began to come together after their family friend Nancy Holzman started up her own restaurant, Good Morning Café, with the idea of giving back to the local community.
Holzman said that talking with friends about their children with diabetes helped her realize the seriousness of the disease.
“We realized after meeting with friends and their children that having diabetes is a very serious condition—it’s something they have to deal with 24/7 for the rest of the child’s life and the parents’,” Holzman said. “The fundraiser was a realization of why I started the business and for me, that’s exciting and for them it’s rewarding, because all of us together could make a difference.”
“She had chosen organizations and things to support and diabetes was one of them,” Janette said. “I told her we were thinking about doing something different besides the Tour to support diabetes, and she agreed to help.”
“We wanted to provide a platform and venue for Adam to do what he wanted to do, which was to help other kids experience what he did at camp,” Holzman said. “So we designated one weekend, which we’ll do every year, to donate some of our proceeds to raise the funds to send two children to camp.”
Janette said the $600 it costs to send a child to Camp Aspire is another reason why it can be so difficult for kids to go.
“Even if you’re okay financially, it’s still a chunk of change to send your kid—and with medical care and co-pays and all of that, on top of what you would normally send your kid to camp for, it’s a lot,” Janette said.
Five local kids sent in letters to Adam stating why they would like to be chosen to go to camp as their application for the scholarship. Of those five, two were chosen based on their essays, and the funds were raised both with the help of the Good Morning Café fundraiser and private donations from friends and family.
The fundraiser was such a success that with the help of the separate donations, along with a matching donation from the Christopher Dailey Foundation, Adam was able to raise enough funds for three of the kids who applied and is hoping to find a way to raise enough money to send the fourth and fifth applicants, though they won’t be able to attend unless more spots open up.
“These kids that were chosen have been dealing with juvenile diabetes a lot longer than Adam—since they were 18 months or three years old, and they’ve never been to camp so they don’t even know about this break in life,” Janette said. “I think the parents are equally as excited—but I think we’re getting more out of this than they are as far as feeling good. It’s kind of overwhelming.”
Adam said he enjoyed breaking the exciting news to the kids.
“Personally, when I read the letters I was like, ‘Wow, this is great,’ because I could really relate to the kids who wrote them, and then I personally made the calls to tell each of the kids we chose and they were really excited,” Adam said. “One boy dropped the phone, he was so excited. His mom called me back to say he accidentally hung up because he was so excited—it’s a really good feeling to be able to help kids, especially when I relate to them so well.”
“Adam is really a star in his own light with all that he’s done,” Holzman added.
Janette said Camp Aspire gives kids with diabetes a chance at normal summer fun.
“The kids go there and do sports, crafts, they have a dance—they do what normal camps do,” Janette said. “We just felt very strongly about this camp being one of the more positive things in Adam’s life and we wanted to share that.”