So hard to fathom that eleven years has gone by that our sweet Lisa left this world. But she went out with a voice shouting from the mountaintops and it’s in the memory of that voice that I keep the promise I gave to my Little Brother (honorary), Mark, that in honor of his wife I would bestow The Lisa Award each year to those who understand The Power of One.
It’s given to people who, in their own way, change the world just like Lisa did. This is a VERY BIG deal to me because these awards are not given lightly. They are given in honor of a woman who was not satisfied to just feel sorry for herself, she changed many lives and I miss her to this day. My friend Lisa passed away in 2009, at the young age of 36. She battled cancer longer than any doctor thought she would, or even could. Through her life, I learned a hugely powerful phrase that will live inside me forever, along with Lisa’s memory: The power of one person.
Here is a quick summary of Lisa’s story, before we get to the awards. She was diagnosed with cancer. Lisa and Mark shared their writings of her journey, in real-time, with a hundred or so friends and family members, all of whom were inspired by each word. People learned, shared, and were in awe of their strength and dedication.
And then something happened.
People who were not part of the inner circle started reading the blog posts, and those people became inspired. The hundred readers became five hundred. In no time, the number of readers rose to 1,000, then 1,500. Soon 3,500 people were following Lisa’s story at every turn, both the good and the bad. Lisa and Mark were so brave in the face of incredible hardship and they inspired others to do the same with grace and dignity, sprinkled with humor.
And then something else happened.
A TV station found out about Lisa and they ran the story on the evening news of her incredible efforts to teach others. Millions heard her story and were inspired by the magic she possessed — the determination to live life and taste every last drop was shared with millions. So many others facing trials hit them ‘head on’, inspired by this young couple.
Eventually what Lisa and Mark shared so openly, became a reality and she succumbed to the physical-ness of what cancer can do. Her spirit, though, was never defeated. The war would go on with Lisa and Mark’s teaching. Her “power of one” changes lives to this day.
This column, surrounding Lisa’s birthday month, pays tribute to those who understand Lisa’s philosophy of the power of one person. Because I’m more versed with the happenings inside the diabetes community, my Lisa Awards are given to those people who live Lisa’s determination to make a difference with the “power of one” in the diabetes community. These people don’t do it — whatever it is — for only themselves, they do it because they think it will make a difference in the lives of those with diabetes. Lisa’s words live in these special people — they know and understand the power of one.
This year’s recipients are:
Mike Hoskins MIke has had type 1 diabetes since March 1984, when he was a 5 years old (coincidentally his mom was diagnosed at age 5 as well). Originally from Southeast Michigan, he lived in Central Indiana from 2004 to 2015 before returning to his home state of Michigan. A newspaper journalist by trade, hitting all the various types of papers in my first professional decade out of college – weekly, large and small dailies, and a statewide specialty legal newspaper. Since 2012 he has been writing for DiabetesMine where he’s been able to combine my passions for both journalism and diabetes advocacy full-time.
Mike’s power-of-one is evident in so many topics of which he writes that is crucially important to all those in the diabetes world. If it’s a story of interest on a local level about a family or on the national level like the importance of insulin prices being affordable, Mike is the one who leads all others reporting the stories with an eye for detail and a heart of passion for a disease he lives with as well. He, like Lisa, believes whole heartedly that one person can make a difference, they just have to want to do so,
Although this year’s award goes to this incredible group that are the watchdogs during hurricane season and what it means to those living in impacted areas with diabetes, the true back bone, heart, and soul are Carol Atkinson, Director of Insulin for Life and Kelly Mueller a Vice President with the American Diabetes Association—it is under their leadership that so much gets done so quickly in a desperate time of need. They will quickly pass on the kudos to the group and that’s fine as the entire group is being recognized but no one puts in more time and effort than Carol and Kelly.
In a time of crisis the day starts with the latest disaster reports and course of action is chartered dealing with helping individuals living with diabetes and also making sure diabetes supplies are getting to the hardest hit areas. Whether it is a plane provided by a celebrity or a local who can carry the supplies on the back of a mule to the furthest hills in a country impacted, the job gets done. This fairly new entity is to be commended that they take many powers of one, link them together, and face the fiercest of world wide catastrophes.
Andre Burnett Indulge me please for my final choice of a Lisa Award this year; it is my son-in-law, but I think of him more as my son as well. He is entrusted with one of the most important things in my life, my only daughter. Aside from the fact that each day he has vowed to serve and protect the public as a police officer, the power of one is that he is the single most important strength in my daughter’s life. He has grown into being her partner as well as her protector. During a recent visit he quietly left the room where we were all speaking and came in with cookies and juice. Kaitlyn looked quite surprised, “Your CGM is alarming.” None of us heard it but he did. No fanfare…just got it done.
When he asked for Kaitlyn’s hand in marriage he assured me with the phrase, “Nothing will happen to her on my watch”. It was a comforting phrase to hear but he has, on many, many occasions lived up to that promise. His smile is infectious and his demeanor is such of a calm, needed in this world during these times. My daughter is one lucky woman, and we are one fortunate family to have this young man in our lives.
So that is this year’s class of Lisa Award recipients. Happy Birthday Lisa…..we miss you still.
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