Not long ago I sat in a room full of people who had all come together for one thing...to begin our Quest For a Cure. It was JDRF's Team Captain kick-off luncheon for the 2009 Walk to Cure Diabetes. We enjoyed a light lunch of salad and ice tea as we listened to different speakers, the branch manager got up and spoke about diabetes research and the advances in technology, the president of the board gave his speech and then a family took the stage. A husband, a wife and their young son stood tall at their podium, side by side.
They began to talk about their life with diabetes, the diagnosis, the fears, the daily challenges of type 1 diabetes and how it has impacted their lives. They were serving as the Ambassador family for the walk that year, they talked about their passion and their commitment to do all that they could to help raise money for the research needed to find a cure.
I remember sitting at our table with my husband and our daughter's, Lil Miss C had just been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes only months earlier and Miss E was just over a year into her life with D, as I listened to their stories and saw the pain in their eyes I was willing myself not to cry but the emotions of their words touched me on a level that was so raw and so delicate that I could not hold back the tears.
With wet cheeks and a runny nose, I couldn't hide the emotions that had taken over me. I hugged Lil Miss C who was sitting on my lap, pulling her into my chest and burying my face into her hair in the hopes that I could hide the anguish that was written all over it. In that moment I made a silent promise to both of my girls, I promised that I would do everything in my power to not only raise as much money as I could to help fund research for a cure, but I was also going to work hard to raise awareness and bring attention to our cause.
I remember thinking as I watched this family speak so courageously about their journey...that could be us someday, we could be the family standing at that microphone sharing our story and inspiring others as this family was so obviously inspiring us. It was a scary thought, on stage in front of hundreds of strangers talking about such a personal and at times painful story. Being able to open yourself up and allow people into your fear, pain and sadness. It's funny though, in being real you are also showing your hope, commitment and strength at the same time. It's a very vulnerable place to be.
I admired this family for their courage to stand in front of us with their hearts wide open, sharing their hope with us. It was a powerful day for me on such a deep and personal level. I had never heard anyone ever express out loud the very same feelings and fears that I was having everyday. They sparked in me a great surge of hope and determination. I left that luncheon with a new sense of strength and purpose.
That year I set aside any sense of hesitation or intimidation..after our walk kick-off I sent letters and e-mails to everyone I knew. After hearing how this family had shared their story with the husbands work place and how his company had become one of their biggest supporters in the walk every year, we decided we too were going to talk with my husbands work. We approached the company he works for and to our delight they jumped on board with us 100%, they hosted an internal walk kick-off and they sponsored our team t-shirts. That year we had an amazing turnout of walkers and we raised over $5,600.00!!!
We ended up receiving an award for being the Top Family Rookie Team for 2009...a HUGE surprise to us and a HUGE honor! It felt good and it gave me such a sense of strength, we were doing something and we were making a difference. I started to do volunteer work with JDRF, becoming Chair of our local TOFUN committee (Type One Families United Network) and helping out at our local JDRF Gala...another story for another day :) It was great, I never gave another thought about being an ambassador family since that day at our luncheon...I never even spoke it out loud, it was just a thought, not something I was seeking out.
Then it happened...
We were asked if we would be interested in serving as the 2010 Walk To Cure Diabetes Ambassador Family!!! Shocked, scared, excited, nervous, happy...you name it, we felt it. In the end we faced our fears head on and we accepted, yes...we would be honored to be the 2010 Ambassador Family. So there it is, a full circle moment.
Just think, this one family inspired us to do so much...just because they shared their story! I am thankful everyday that I had an opportunity to hear their words and their story.