What made you decide to volunteer at Camp Hendon and how long have you been volunteering?
I decided to attend camp in 1999 when I was working on my Master’s Degree and was looking for something that would fit into my Community Health rotation. I had no idea before this that Camp Hendon existed. This year will be my 21st year being associated with Camp Hendon.
What is your role at camp?
I have had several roles at camp throughout the years. I started as a Dietitian in the Snake Den. I was assigned to a Den for the first 3 years then moved into the RD Director role for around 10 years or more. For the past 5-6 years I have been the RD for the Owls, Foxes, and Coyotes. I have been thrilled to just be a part of such an awesome group of people in whatever aspect that may include.
Why do you come back year after year? What do you get from camp or how has it impacted your life?
Camp Hendon is the place where I have found a lifelong love of a week in the life of greater than 100 persons with diabetes in one place at the same time. It is the campers, the staff, the feeling of belonging, the events, the late-night donut runs (without judgement), midnights in the kitchen, and morning coffee as the fog dissipates that make me come back year after year. It is a week of true giving back and refueling of the inner goodness my heart needs.
What is your favorite activity at camp and why?
My favorite activity is most likely the dances as we get to see all the campers and staff in their true fun form. It is amazing to watch the interaction as well as the good times, laughter and pure joy in everyone’s eyes.
What are some things you have learned or taken away from camp?
I have learned that we provide a service to some of the most resilient and amazing young people in the world. It is so heart-warming to see diabetes management “click” in the eyes of our young people. Also, watching the staff grow in their own control of diabetes while teaching our young folk how to live this life as a Type 1 is something that will forever change my perception of diabetes management.
What do you do in your real life when you’re not giving your time to Camp Hendon?
My other life is spent working as a Facility Administrator for Fresenius Kidney Care where I manage two dialysis facilities in South Central Kentucky. I was a Renal Dietitian for this company for 22 years and have been in the management role for 3 years now.
I am the quiet more reserved type person in a crowd but I love to be outdoors going on adventures as often as I can. My wife and I have one puppy, well she is 4 now but I still call her a puppy. Her name is Annie. I also have one cat named Zoey who rules the roost and just lets us live there with her.
Do you have any skills or talents that many may not know about you?
I truly wish that I could say I have some neat hidden talent but, in all actuality, I am just a plain ole soul that doesn’t have a special talent to speak of. I love to sing along with great music but it is sad that God didn’t choose me to be one with a great voice. Even buckets can’t help my tune. Trust me, I have tried…..all that did was make my neighbors wonder what was wrong with me.
At what age were you diagnosed with T1D?
I was 18 when diagnosed.
Favorite low treatment snack?
Fudge rounds are my fav, but I usually eat jelly beans.
Are you on a pump &/or CGM? If so, which ones?
Pump for 20 years now. Tandem Tslim and Dexcom G6.
What is hard for you in regards to Diabetes?
My biggest challenge with Diabetes is exercise and the effects of how quickly it drops your glucose levels. My second biggest challenge is managing those stressful days and the highs that are generated with frustration. How do you manage it? As for exercise, I have found that going for a walk after a meal is the best. This allows you to not be worried dropping too low.
In relation to Stress, I am still working on how to deal with that. Sometimes, I just take a walk to cool down a bit and my level will come back down as well.
Favorite tip for dominating T1D when you have diabetes burnout?
Go to Camp Hendon, connect with the friends you make here at Camp Hendon. We all have days, months and sometimes years that we don’t want to deal with diabetes at all. It is a normal response to the day to day monotony of controlling diabetes. Truth is we just really want a day off here and there and that is what Camp Hendon does for us as well as keeps us safe while we learn how to handle those days that are not so easy.
Do you wear a medical ID?
Of Course I do. Always, 24/7. This was ingrained in me by my Diabetes Educator when I was first diagnosed.