Hey Guess What?????……Our Problems…….NOT SO UNIQUE!!!……and The Peace Corps of Diabetes.

IDF world congress logoI have been honored  speaking this week at the International Diabetes Federation’s (IDF) World Diabetes Congress in Vancouver.  First comment; what am I doing here?  I am constantly and completely in awe of this ‘diabetes journey’ and where it takes me.  How a guy who needed speech therapy as a child ends up in front of people across this great world of ours lecturing on anything to do with diabetes is truly a humbling experience.

And, yet……here I am.

I wanted to write today to share with you something I have learned over the last few days.  It just might be worth while for you to hear it.  You know how we discuss all of the problems with T1 and T2; the differences, the one getting more attention than the other, the one that needs more passion,  the one that needs more attention, the battle to get the word out there just exactly what is diabetes all about………………well guess what?  The problem is universal.  Across every continent on this GREAT earth of ours.  The problems we have…….others have also.

Here’s one for you, did you know that the World Health Organization (WHO) has designated their annual World Health Day on April 7th, 2016 for Diabetes Awareness.  Click here to read more.

Now I do not know their plans, I do not know whether they are correct in their messaging, and I’m unsure what exactly they have in mind but when I went to their web home page and had to scroll all the way to the bottom to find out what this was, my guess was that they may not be so quick to give this day the push needed.  It is something that is just 5 months away.  Were you aware of this information…….me either.  But now you know.

What I found out was that there are problems with this diabetes thing world-wide.  Some similar, and some not so similar.  And many heartbreaking.  But I also found out something else.

Now that this problem is becoming more and more identifiable, people are doing something.  They have made the choice to Not Do Nothing.  I spoke to the IDF Young Leaders this week.  Put simply, they ARE AMAZING.  Young people with T1 and T2 diabetes doing something in their own country to make a difference.  I mean substantial things.

Getting diabetes supplies to people where needed, where kids die before they even get their much-needed insulin.
Awareness programs in their home countries.
Creating support groups.
Creating clinics in areas that are underserved.

This group is the Peace Corps of diabetes.

I spoke to many of them, one young man from Kuwait, uses his own money because finances are so hard to come across.  Another spends countless hours trying to make a support group grow.  Their energy and abilities are not only impressive, they are inspiring.

So today I wanted you to just know two things.  One; our problems and concerns are not as unique as we may think.  Two; in other parts of the world, they believe as we do–that to get something done, you have to ‘get in there’, roll up your sleeves, and get involved.  And many people are doing just that.

That’s encouraging.

And that’s inspiring.

Just wanted you to know.

I am a diabetes dad.

Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.



Diabetes Awareness Month…..Is the Outside World Learning Anything?

Blue squareNovember is Diabetes Awareness Month and the 14th is designated as Word Diabetes Day.  It’s my understanding that the American Diabetes Association designated one and the International Diabetes Federation designated the other…..and it was so declared.

I think.

Now I love ‘branding’.  I love that I know what Nike means, what Polo means, and what the golden arches of McDonalds mean.  One brand means one thing.  As a diabetes community, have we missed the mark in this regard?  I mean what is the one message we want to get out in November.  In branding, you establish something that is instantly recognizable to the general public and you work hard (and sometimes billions of dollars) to ‘make that brand work’.

Remember the ice bucket challenge.  After that, everyone ran around searching for, and trying to be, ‘the next’ ice bucket challenge.  Never quite understood that because the major organizations ALL HAVE MARQUEE fundraising events that raise hundreds of millions dollars each and every year…..they already are ‘the next thing’.  A ‘next’ anything, for them, does not need to be created…….they have one already in walks and rides.  Build upon what you have.

Now I’m surely for the notion that everyone wants to ‘get involved’ and do their own thing.  But I also know that we, as a community, are constantly reflecting upon the fact that there are so many identity problems in the world of diabetes.  And during this month so many people are trying, and/or, doing their own thing that I ask, “Is the world at-large hearing or seeing one concise messaging?”  In the attempt for so many to ‘improve’ upon a blue color, or get a message out, or be the ‘cute’ new thing about diabetes that there is SO MUCH going on, the public is not hearing any message at all?

If you try to be everything to everyone, you usually end up nothing to anyone.  I have been thinking about this for a while and I have an idea.

The IDF conference, next month, is in Vancouver.  November, as diabetes month, is a full 30 days in length.  Why is there not a meeting among the tri-powerful JDRF, ADA, and the IDF; but every other organization is invited also.   In actuality, would it be wrong to have/create a diabetes council?  One representative of every organization and everyone meets at the IDF Conference and the ADA conference—twice a year.  And at this meeting, every organization is equal.

Actually this can be good for a lot of reasons but one focus could be……what is the single message needed to get out the following November?  The first half of the meeting a discussion is held and ideas are thrown about what the message would be for diabetes Awareness Month.  The list is whittled down to a few single messages, and a vote is taken and the one single message is decided.  After November, everyone can go back to doing their own thing but for one month, one message.

And that’s it.

Because the resources of the JDRF, ADA, and IDF are bigger than, well probably everyone else, they accept the challenge (on a rotation basis) to come up with that year’s creative (the design) but there are also some pretty creative people in our community and perhaps they can be asked to be part of the design team because after all, it will belong to all of us in the community.  The  message is generic, but here is the thing, there is a space for ALL ORGANIZATIONS to brand it themselves.  No matter how big or how small the organization, you can add your logo, your website, and/or your phone number to the art design with the generic message.

Now for thirty days straight, the message is the same.  The exact same. Unified. Everyone has been part of the process.  But the world-at-large is now seeing the ONE MESSAGE about diabetes that has been agreed upon by the entire diabetes community for that year.

Why try it?

Well, we all have been doing our own thing for so long, and I’m unsure what impact there really has been over the years for THE OUTSIDE WORLD to understand this disease; perhaps trying something else and working toward a unified message……well maybe that time has come……what do you think?

I am a DiabetesDad.
Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.

Every One of these Magical Dancers has T1D…….and that Was Not The Only Magic. WOW!!!!!!!

Dancing girlsEveryone of these young ladies, dancing their hearts out, have type 1 diabetes.  Dancing for Diabetes has that kind of magic that made this entire evening one of the most memorable of all my World Diabetes Days in all my 22 years on this journey……understanding the nature of it, it was a hugely memorable evening all around.  The unsung heroes are both the behind- the-scenes people who orchestrated the night; and all those who arranged the choreography–brilliantly executed and thoroughly entertaining all.

To say this was ‘just’ an evening of dance would be like saying the Super Bowl is just another football game.  From hip-hop, to modern dance, to ballet to even a trip to Starbucks to see a hugely original dance to Kristen Chenoweth’s Taylor the Latte Boy; yes, this night had it all.  Even an incredible diabetes education segment at the top of Act II…..absolutely flawless.

Dancing for DIabetes LogoFifteen years ago a young tween-ager (at the time), but no less determined,  began Dancing for Diabetes in her driveway in her Florida home.  It was the brainchild of a talented dancer, Elizabeth Stein, who was diagnosed shortly before with T1D.

Not to let diabetes stop her in any way, IN ANY WAY, she began Dancing for Diabetes to help others know that they can do anything while managing their diabetes.  Indeed.  When you see the graceful Elizabeth on home-made videos, you realize just how magnificent and dedicated she was to her craft.  When you see her at work  in a Florida Law office, you see an educated and focused office manager. When you see her speak of Dancing with Diabetes, you see a business woman with a fierce dedication to make this project work outside the boarders of her Florida State.

Dancing girls endBut it is the softness, in this same woman’s eyes, when she speaks of the young dancers who are featured in the second act, all having diabetes.  ‘I remember what it was like to dance and manage this disease.  I know what they are going through.”   And she does.  When she is on one knee speaking to one of her dancers, she walks them through as they manage their diabetes.  An outsider (me), cannot help but ask which is bigger, her knowledge of making Dancing for Diabetes the sharpest, tightest, and most professional evening of dance ever created; or her heart that cares so much for her dancers (and there were hundreds of them) especial those who dance with insulin pumps and CGMs on their waists and attached to their arms.

Awe. Inspiring. Impressed.  And quite frankly a few tears as I remember another little girl who loved dancing a lifetime ago.  On this World Diabetes Day, I was taken back to a little girl who with her diabetes, wanted to dance as well….and dance she did.  Diabetes did not stop her then, and at twenty-five it has not stopped her yet.

In my seat of hundreds of people, I was alone; as tears filled my eyes watching this evening unfold.  This one incredible evening unfold.

Dancing for Diabetes is a nonprofit organization and the Diabetes Research Institute will receive the proceeds from this year’s event.  Elizabeth has an army of friends and family who help her and this is one professionally run evening right down with signs on where to park outside the building.   As I spoke to the sponsors and special guests at the reception following, I said that Dancing with Diabetes should be, no NEEDS to be, in every State of our great country—-and beyond.   Turns out that is Elizabeth’s exact plan.

So if you have a love for dance, or your child does, and you want to learn more about Dancing for Diabetes; send me an email at tkarlya@drif.org (write Dancing in the subject line) and I will have Elizabeth get back to you.  It takes some work, but it is a fantastic evening and everyone should share in it.

Dancing for diabetes Elizabeth Head shotIt was a World Diabetes Day to remember and for Elizabeth, by evening’s end, it would be even more-so as her boy friend dropped to one knee and asked her to marry him.   She said yes.

Take THAT diabetes.

I am a diabetes dad.
Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.

Diabetes Awareness Day I Created Something You Can Share to People Without Diabetes

Star. CupSo here is something you can share with those people who do not have diabetes.  A simple cup…….with a message. It just seemed to me that instead of it being a controversy, it could be used for a simple message…..a message that could save the life of someone you know and love.   It’s ‘interesting enough’ that local newspaper and media outlets may share it also….share it with them.  Share this with other sites, any sites.  Place this on all social media.  Anywhere where people who know nothing about diabetes may see it.

GDR Warning jpg

If you received this post….kindly click the flyer above and print it out.  Hang it somewhere where people will see it.  Sometimes, at the onset, type 1 diabetes can seem like a flu/or virus; but it’s not.  If someone you know has the signs above, ask your doctor to test for type 1 diabetes immediately.

So if today is about getting a message out……this just may be a way to capture those who know nothing about diabetes, the message is surely there.

Have a GREAT November 14th.

I am a diabetes dad.
Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.

Tomorrow is November 14th; Nothing Tops the Reason We Started…….and Nothing Ever Will.

Kaitlyn FlowerI’m all in favor of everything that will happen tomorrow, and for that matter, all this month regarding diabetes.  Happy Birthday tomorrow, Dr. Banting and thank you for creating insulin; it–more than anything else ever discovered, created, invented, researched, and/or implemented is still the single-best finding EVER in the world of diabetes…..and everything else pales in comparison.

But we surely are glad that everything else that has come along and will continue to come along on this journey……aren’t we?

I always find myself thinking many things during this month.  My thoughts come down to one thing each and every year during this month.  Why I got involved in the first place.  And that reason is still a little girl who asked me, in crib/bed at the hospital in 1992 when she said, ‘Daddy, fix.”

No matter what has happened in this journey, it all comes down to her.  And in 2009 her brother was added to that drive.  Two of my three kids having diabetes.  It’s still my single focus and all that matters to me at the end of the day.  It’s why I try not to get caught up in ‘stuff’ that does not interest me.  What interests me is helping others and seeing that one day this disease is cured.  For Kaitlyn.  For Rob.   For others.


Nothing short of that is acceptable in my eyes.  Many things that come along are appreciated but I’m always reminded of the headline when insulin was discovered which stated that it had been cured……..hmmmmmm?…..greatly helped……but not cured.

I have a definition of cured in my mind, and you have what that means to you as well.  We may differ how we will get there.  We may differ on who, or what, will lead the way.  We may differ on what ‘word’ we want to get out to the masses.  We may differ what symbol and/or color should be used to represent us all.  We may differ on who has written what, and how we sometimes want to hug the person, and sometimes we may even want to punch them in the nose.  We may differ on organizations.  We may differ on the emphasis of what is important.

I have said it a million times, just ‘Don’t do Nothing’.  And yet, over the years people have informed me that all they choose to do is take care of what they need to and I have learned we may differ in that thought too.

But at the end of the day;  when we crawl into bed, sign that last letter, post that last comment, give that last dollar, undo that last black-tie, tie that last sneaker, pedal that last bike we need to stop and we should look upon the face that started it all for us.  No we do not need a reminder how we got involved, we will always remember the reason.  But as the thirteenth of November turns into the fourteenth of November, look upon the face of the one who got you here.  Either as they sleep, or by looking at a picture.

And say to yourself yet again: Nothing matters as much.

For me, nothing ever did matter more……and nothing ever will.  Keep that thought and realize just how wonderful you are…….and multiply that by a hundred to realize just how wonderful and special your kids are as well.  And how much their siblings and other relatives and friends have been there to help.

And remember this……..no matter WHAT has happened to you in this journey, that face still stands as the single most reason to continue what ever it is that you do. That is Diabetes Awareness Day to me; always has been….always will be….and it happens every day.   You?

I am a diabetes dad.
Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.

Hey, Yew Look’n at Me???…..Blue Bosses in Charge; Until…….

MOb face in Blue Circle

Here is a fun take/tale on the meeting between ‘bosses’.  Enjoy for Diabetes Awareness Month.  This is my guest blog for Diabetic Lifestyle.


I am a diabetes dad.

Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.


Diabetes Awareness Month…..Yada Yada Yada….Big Yawn…..Right?

Diabetes Blue CircleWell it’s here again.  Diabetes Awareness month.  Why bother, right?  TV shows will still get it wrong, organizations will still fight to own the spotlight, friends and relatives will still get it wrong, pharma companies are still the big bad guys, and our kids will still battle this disease for another year…….what difference does it really make?

If you feel, in any shape or form—even one iota, that this statement is a true statement; than you need to do more.  It’s so easy to stand back from the outside and see all that is wrong with whatever YOU THINK is wrong.  But hear me loudly and hear me clearly; if you think for one second that you have had enough and complaining is the best you can do than you have NO CHANCE of changing anything.

Nothing can be changed by anyone standing on the sidelines moaning about what is wrong, and who is wrong, and how it will never change.  NOTHING!!!!

I’m so tired of reading gripes and complaints and the very same people do not lift a finger to make a difference.  No money and no time is NOT AN EXCUSE!  You do not have to give 1 penny but you surely could collect donations somewhere; and as for time—the next time you feel that way during an entire year that you do not have 10 minutes to even hang a poster of awareness……..well shame on you!

Everybody has ‘life’ thrown at the them and for the beginning of Diabetes Awareness Month, make a decision to get off the sidelines and just “Don’t do Nothing”.  I’m a tad angry today as you can see……why?   Because there is a huge group of people who are battling incredible winds and cold today for the JDRF ride.  They have lives.  They have life throwing them curveballs.  They are single parents trying to make a go of it.  They have type 1, and what could have been a beautiful ride has become an all out war against the weather.  They could have just thrown up their hands and said, “Not Me”.

But they didn’t.

They forged on to get as much done as their weary bodies could take.  They are doing it for their own and for those of us not riding. Whether you believe in JDRF or not; their advocacy on the Hill, and their funding will help your child.  If you believe in the ADA or not; their constant fighting for rights in schools and elsewhere will still help your child.  Whether you believe in the cure focus research of the DRI or elsewhere, when the time comes you will be glad that work continued.  Whether you believe in helping people abroad or not, The Diabetes Hands Foundation will still help families abroad sleep tonight because they stepped in, and the list is much, much longer…………and yet, I’m told by someone who is doing nothing this month because “why should we when Pharma companies control everything?”

You are not doing it for PHARMA.

Nothing makes me more furious than listening to ANYone who does nothing to make this world right/better and goes and complains about the NOTHING they are doing and just why THEY ARE doing nothing.

I ask “How is that nothing going by the way?  Feeling good how you are helping your child doing just that………………………Nothing?!?!?!?!”

If you want to be that way….go ahead….but shut your mouth because if you’re not in to help it….you are distracting those who care enough to fix things that need fixing, find a cure, educate the schools, climb the hill in Washington DC, lecture to a group of people, research, build better management tools, help children across the globe who cannot afford insulin, donate money, ride, walk, raise money, join boards/committees, advocate everywhere, support others, and quite honestly many of us are tired hearing that voice of ‘nothingness’.

Either get up and get involved, or be still.  Because many of the rest of us have a lot of work that needs to get done and that voice of ‘nothingness’ is getting, quite honestly, very tiring.

It’s November.  Diabetes Awareness Month.  Get up and do something or it will be my constant prayer that in December you get a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Past.  It changed that guy, you’re next!

I am a diabetes dad.

Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.




NEED YOUR HELP TODAY………Summer Camps???…..Help Others…..What Do You Know?

CampOkay, I need your help.  Because I do not know from personal experience; I seek your input today.  It is May 2nd and families are getting ready to send their child(ren) to camp.  Our kids did not attend summer camp, or by time Kaitlyn did–she did as a counselor–but it surely is a topic THAT MUST be addressed.

Kindly share your experience going to diabetes camp for the first time, or every summer; having diabetes and going to a non-diabetes camp—what tidbits can you add?  Not going away to camp but a day camp—what do you know?

One of my favorite people on this living earth is Shelly Yeager.  Few people have the love deep within her heart for our young people than Shelly.  Her work at The Barton Camp, the Diabetes Education and Camping Association, and more recently with Young Leaders in IDF also has made her a powerhouse of knowledge.  Camps can be such a huge asset to any family dealing with diabetes and Shelly taught me that over the years.  The amount of education that is poured into these camps is just incredible. And…..they’re a load of fun.

You can learn a good deal by going to the site of the Diabetes Education and Camping Association (they have a camp locator by state) but I also believe that some great advice from others adding their own personal experiences will be a huge help as well.

What did your kids like about it, what did you do to get them ready, were you in contact with your kids while they were away–and how did you deal with that aspect, how can one get financial assistance in attending, did you weigh sleep-over vs. day camp?????   Our friends overseas….share what you know also; where should people turn for help in your country?   All just some questions that need answers and could help others.

And PLEASE feel free to tell us about a camp you love (and add their link); this is all information that people might be able to use.

Please hit reply and give your comments on this site because this article is sent and read all over and not just on the FB page you may have seen it; so please add your advice, comments, and pearls of wisdom right here for others to see.

Camps—-the season is open!

I am a diabetes dad.

Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.

Diabetes Jeopardy Answer #14 for D-Month: For Whom is World Diabetes Day Recognized on November 14th?????

frederick banting….who is Sir Frederick Banting

Below is a quick bio of the man who is responsible for the discovery of insulin; his birthday is November 14th, TODAY, and it is this date that the International Diabetes Federation decided was the best day to be World Diabetes Day……and they would be correct.  There have been many great ‘findings’ over the years but the discovery of insulin stands alone as the single best discovery yet.

From Wikipedia
Sir Frederick Grant Banting
, KBE, MC, FRS, FRSC (November 14, 1891 – February 21, 1941) was a Canadian medical scientist, doctor, painter and Nobel laureate noted as the primary discoverer of insulin.

In 1923 Banting and John James Rickard Macleod received the Nobel Prize in Medicine.Banting shared the award money with his colleague, Dr. Charles Best. As of September 2011, Banting, who received the Nobel Prize at age 32, remains the youngest Nobel laureate in the area of Physiology/Medicine. The Canadian government gave him a lifetime annuity to work on his research. In 1934 he was knighted by King George V. In 2004, Frederick Banting was voted fourth place on The Greatest Canadian.

In February 1941, Banting died of wounds and exposure following a Lockheed L-14 Super Electra/Hudson crash in Musgrave Harbour Newfoundland. He was en route to England to conduct operational tests on a new project have nothing to do with diabetes.

About World Diabetes Day from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) website:
World Diabetes Day (WDD) is celebrated every year on November 14. The World Diabetes Day campaign is led by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and its member associations. It engages millions of people worldwide in diabetes advocacy and awareness. World Diabetes Day was created in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization in response to growing concerns about the escalating health threat that diabetes now poses. World Diabetes Day became an official United Nations Day in 2007 with the passage of United Nation Resolution 61/225. The campaign draws attention to issues of paramount importance to the diabetes world and keeps diabetes firmly in the public spotlight. 

For Diabetes Awareness Month:
This month, I will be highlighting someone in the diabetes community.  They may be people you know, or might not know, but they give of themselves to make this world, our world, with diabetes a special place.   I will not get to everyone this month, but it is my hope that perhaps you can be introduced to some of those you may not know.

I’m certainly not the definitive on who should be included….you are.  If you think I should include someone, shoot me an email at tkarlya@drif.org and I will do what I can to include that person as well.  Welcome to diabetes awareness month.

I am a diabetes dad.

Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.

Diabetes “Mad Men”…..What Commercial WOULD YOU LIKE to See?

mad menFrom my time as a producer, I can tell you that it is a very labor-consuming, frustrating, and difficult time frame, from conception to airtime, creating a commercial or Public Service Announcement (PSA).

Trying to think of a commercial with a concept that captures the viewer’s attention by being edgy like this one created for the 1984 Superbowl. (Click links to see Ad).  Is no easy task.





Or perhaps a lighthearted approach like this one reminding us to “buckle-up’—-this became a huge classic.

Buckle up





And if you like Public Service Announcements, here is an all-time classic.

Like father like son





In between all of these thousands and thousands of commercials and public service announcements are the ones that missed the mark. Not every commercial can be remembered like Smokey the Bear.  And when it comes to disease-specific like diabetes it gets even tougher as we learned in the last few days.  We want this, but you cannot do that; this is good, but don’t say that; OMG my kids will see that–no way; they are healthy, they could die at any moment; the list is extremely hard to navigate, extremely hard.

While at dLife I wrote and produced the PSA spot below (look for Sandra Oh and Bret Michaels) to try to engage people to ‘Test’ their blood sugar more often.  dLife had already changed their ‘Know your Number’ to ‘Test, Don’t Guess’ in print work but to run a PSA, more thought had to be considered.  So you know how difficult this process can be; while figuring the entire process, Paula (Producer colleague) and I agonized over the use of the word ‘test’ and not ‘check’ for over a week before we bought it to dLife Creator Howard Steinberg for approval and air time; the deciding factor–they are not called ‘check-strips’ they are called ‘test-strips’.  So as simple and low-budget as it was; we ran with this spot (edited together by the incredible Holleran Media Productions) which, as many now know, became an award-winning spot (Telly Award).

test don't guess




With the recent announcement of the new IDF PSA; the DOC was not short of opinions chiming in about the spot; but that’s easy.  To look at something and say; “Fabulous’, “Realistic”, “Horrible’, “Seriously?”, and many more comments both pro and con; well that is the easy part of the commercial.  Whether you like something or not, well that is your opinion.

So here is the challenge.  By replying to this article, start to tell me what ‘your perfect’ diabetes commercial would be.  The more exact you make it, the better the understanding; so be specific.  If we can come to one unified concept, I will check with ‘some friends’ I still have and see if they can produce the spot (no promises, but I will try–I’m also not a big fan of animated, or cartoon, spots; just so you know).  Of course if someone out there knows someone who knows someone who would love to be involved…..shoot me an email.  😉

The spot needs to be engaging, thirty seconds in length, edgy enough to be talked about but not edgy enough to offend.  It can be funny, dramatic, poignant, and focused.  It must be focused.  You have one message to get across….what is it?

As you go through this process you will find that it is not as easy as it looks, or you may even think it to be.  Now I know that it ‘is not your job’ to create a PSA or a commercial, but if you had an opinion on the IDF spot, you should be able to relay what you would duplicate or what you would not duplicate.  Post your thoughts here and also feel free to comment on each other’s work.   It will be like ‘we’ are the agency creating the spot.  A little diabetes ‘Mad Men’ as it were.

Have a feel of what this process is like, and let’s see if we can come to a resolve on what the spot should look like. 

Okay………..Lights!  Camera! Action!   Rollllllllll ’em……………….

I am a diabetes dad.

Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.