Prior to being diagnosed with diabetes almost 3 years ago I felt compelled to give back to the community in some way but was not sure how I wanted to do that. Post diagnosis I became involved with the ADA Community walks program. That was my first experience with volunteer work and with the diabetes community. For two years I was the Volunteer Walk Coordinator for the Boise ADA Community Walk. That experience awakened a passion in me. A passion to donate my time towards raising money and awareness for people that experience what I do on daily basis. That also led me to discovering Idaho Diabetes Youth Programs and Camp Hodia (last part of Idaho, first part of diabetes). Like so many other camps across the country, Camp Hodia provides an opportunity for kids and teens with Type 1 diabetes to be around other kids their own age who are going through the same things as them. When they go to camp they no longer feel like outsiders, they feel normal among other kids just like them. Originally I thought about volunteering as a counselor but that wouldn't work with my current home and work schedule. Then I was contacted about helping with a fundraiser for the camp. This experience was one of the most rewarding of my life. If the ADA walk ignited the fire in me for volunteering then this fundraiser fanned those flames.
Not being diagnosed until I was 26 I never experienced camp. But I do experience the isolation of diabetes and the feeling that no one gets it. From the first meeting I felt like what I was doing was right, but it was not until the night of the event that those feelings really peaked and overflowed. Seeing the hard work of our group come together for our event and seeing a room filled with generous people joining up to support kids with diabetes was overwhelming. During the live auction portion of the fundraiser I stood at the front of the room and was in awe of the amount of money people were putting up for the cause that I had grown so passionate about in the months spent planning prior to that. The 14 year old daughter of our fundraising committee leader, a PWD and camper herself, spoke towards the end of the auction. She spoke about her diagnosis, about what life with diabetes was like for her, and what camp meant to her. She talked about the feelings of isolation and being an outsider, having to count carbs, dose insulin, and constantly check her blood sugar while her peers went about living normal lives. While I am in a much different place in my life than this young girl, I knew just what she was talking about because I experience those same feelings in my own life. She went on to talk about how she looked forward to camp every year and being able to spend a week at a place where she felt normal and had friends who were the same as her and knew what she was going through. As she spoke the tears welled up in my eyes. The passion that I felt for this cause grew by leaps and bounds as I saw first hand the effect of the money I was helping to raise.
I had often heard and seen people volunteering their time and energy for causes that they believe in. But until I experienced it first hand I never really understood what drove them to do that. Their time could be spend doing so many things, but they chose to give it these organizations. Our auction and gambling night for Camp Hodia raised over $44,000, over double the original $20,000 goal. And did I mention that this was the first year the event had been held? That fundraiser took place almost two weeks ago and I am still in a dreamlike state when I think about way it made me feel. I am still in awe of what a few people working together toward a common goal can accomplish. I still feel like telling every person that I might what we accomplished. Some things I put my time into are a bit selfish in that they directly effect me or I benefit from the results. Others, like Camp Hodia, I will never personally benefit from outside of the feelings of accomplishment and pride. Either way, I encourage anyone who has a cause they are passionate about to get out and do whatever you are able to support it, you will not regret it.
You can find more information about Camp Hodia here