Story by: Shawna Thomas on December 12, 2017
We are Kennon, Shawna, Olivia and Oliver Thomas.
Oliver is our 8-year-old. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2015 at age 6. We had lived in Southern Indiana for just over three months when Oliver was diagnosed, so we did not know anybody and feared what life was to become.
We attended the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) One Walk that fall. This was the first time I realized there were a lot more “Type 1s” out there than I ever realized. I began asking how do we connect? How do we support one another? How do we get families, kids, parents together? That was the thought process for planning how to connect our Type 1 diabetes community.
The name Type 1 Club comes from a moment at a local waterpark when a little girl noticed Oliver’s pod (which delivers insulin) and began asking questions. Kennon talked to the girl for a few minutes and she shared how she was a “Braveheart” (a group for kids with congenital heart defects). That sparked the idea of a “club” that our kids can belong to that is special to them.
With the help of many people, we have been able to get Type 1 Club up and running, and we are excited about what the future holds. Type 1 Club supports the Wendy Novak Diabetes Institute and is supported by the Children’s Hospital Foundation. Type 1 Club has an established steering committee that has been actively involved in the development of our club.
Our goal is to connect Type 1 families with the diabetes provider community, offer educational opportunities, host social events to connect with other families and help families send their children to diabetes summer camps for a special experience. To date, the club already has held two events to connect families: a Louisville Bats baseball game night this past summer and a holiday ornament decorating party in October to raise funds for the club through the Festival of Trees & Lights.
We anticipate getting kids and parents together at least four times per year. This is a parent-led club, and we currently have parents with kids from all age groups to help us plan age-appropriate events. As we build a core group of families, we would like to expand to a mentorship program for newly diagnosed families.
So far, more than 60 families have expressed interest in becoming involved in the club, but we know there are more out there that would really benefit. We are trying to get the word out. The overarching response from families is they’re grateful for an opportunity to connect with other families through a group like Type 1 Club.
Type 1 Club depends on support through the Children’s Hospital Foundation. To become a monthly donor and help support efforts like these, join today.