The village kids call him ‘Alto’. The Spanish translation is tall. But Jesse is much taller than just to play basketball. Jesse is much taller because when many people might shy away from this type of opportunity, Jesse embraced it.
Embraced it indeed.
Being in a village called Juan Dolio is not exactly the quick pace of New York. This village, on the southern coast of the Dominican Republic, is far away…..from……well….everything. Where coconut palm trees grow in the sand and the water is bluer than we know. But also where 99% of the villagers show up in clothes that are torn and without shoes; seeking medical care coming from houses with clay floors. In 1998 Hurricane Georges destroyed the entire village. Little was left to even rebuild to the little resort community it once was.
Jesse is part of a hand-picked group offered to come to this area to help. It’s not mandatory and I’m sure Jesse would rather be in his apartment back in Buffalo where he attends school and will graduate in June with his RN BSN. But Jesse is on a mission. A mission with Missionary Score International to help others, including medical care, and that’s where Jesse comes in. He is in that field and is very helpful to this small community where medical care is a huge luxury……..of need.
I have known Jesse for some time. He’s not actually one of my kids, but he is one of all of our kids. One of our kids with type 1 diabetes making a difference. He is your regular 23 year-old and does what many young man his age like to do. He’s not perfect; who was at age twenty-three (surely not me)? But Jesse is also one of those young men who act beyond his years and quickly steps-up when someone needs help. Having T1D since age 9 makes you aware pretty quickly in life that fair is a word that can surely be/work against you. Jesse would have none of it. Not only does he live life to the fullest, he gives back when so many more say, I’m just too busy.
So for this week he gives of his time, voluntarily, to help those who are less fortunate than he, and who live life as only he may have read about when he was younger. People who have less and need medical care more. And even when he is done for the day, he finds time for a basketball game with the village kids. Where he allows the six who face him alone, to score ten quick points before he beats them 11-10.
Jesse understands fun, work, volunteerism, giving, enjoying, long hours, quick rests, laughter, and balancing diabetes; and many, including myself, are very proud of his efforts. A tall order for some, but not for a young man the village kids……..call ‘Alto’.
I am a diabetes dad.
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