Dear Newly Diagnosed Family……

I read in a recent FB post about a parent who was filled with despair and absolute loss that their child was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. My column, this month’s column, is dedicated to you.

Dear Parent to the Child Newly Diagnosed with T1D,

Let me begin by saying how sorry I am that you are now part of ‘this club’; ‘a club’ of which none of us ever wanted to belong. There is not one single thing that you are thinking, or have thought, that most of us have also thought. We know your fears.

Outside of those fears, in actuality, our kids are doing GREAT! That’s what we WANT to share but the fear you have, we have too. Always did and always will. But here’s the thing, the first night became the second night which became the next month, and then the next year and we woke up one day and it was 28 years for our baby girl diagnosed at age 2 and 12 years for our youngest, a son diagnosed at age 13.

So although the fear is there, we have learned to take this ‘diabetes thing’ and live with it and allow it in our lives (because we cannot control that) but not to allow it to rule our lives. We do not live in fear, we live in ‘bring it on’, we can handle it.

Our kids make friends, go on to high school, college, and beyond. They are in the homecoming court, robotics club, prom court, track team, badminton team, and so much more. They letter in sports on high school teams, they play college ball, some even turn pro. All with the same disease that has you wondering today, about your child’s tomorrow.

They become executives, nurses, doctors, and play sports on teams like the Miami Marlins, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Toronto Blue Jays. They win medals at the Olympics, win Grammy Awards, Academy Awards, and they even become Miss America. You see it’s better to live a life by grabbing it for all it has and letting nothing stop you, or your child.

It’s hard to see that right now as you cry while you inject your child with life saving insulin or prick their fingers to check their blood glucose number, or even pricking the heels of their feet because they are just too little for their fingers. It’s hard to think that your daughter calls you when she makes you a grand parent as you think, today, will anyone even marry someone who has this disease? The answer is yes.

Learn two things: The answer to every one of your questions about what you child can do with diabetes is the same answer as if they did not have diabetes. Yes they can, will, do and achieve.
The second thing, and it’s also the answer as to how the first thing can be accomplished; and that is education. Learn all you can about this disease and how it impacts your child, it is the ultimate equalizer. Education.

You do not see that at 3 in the morning as you cry out, “Why them? Give it to me.” But I have been there and so have millions of others. Look in the mirror and tell that person, “You’ve got this.”

One day at a time.

It’s okay to hurt, cry, scream, be frustrated, exhausted but look at your child……..you just can never give up. Look at them. They’re worth every bit of energy you have but don’t waste that energy……you will look back and know that your child is doing so well because anything else is just not an option. You’ve got this.

We’ve all been there. We’re all here now. If you need us, call.
Sincerely yours,
DiabetesDad

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

What Have We Become?

I ‘m not quite sure why? Perhaps it ‘s the culture or the climate of late, but does anyone else sense there is a different feeling among posts on social media dealing with diabetes, and the management therein for one’s self or for their child?

It’s as if the the number one rule of years ago, has been forgotten. What you read on social media is not fact, as much as it’s one’s opinion, albeit some really good opinions at times, and that diabetes is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. I’ve witnessed some pretty heated exchanges lately that derail even further as someone’s different opinion’s weigh in, and also from those who feel their opinion is enough for people to believe as a gospel-truth-attitude, sort of a “….that’s the way it is!”…… mentality.

This has always been a very complex disease. This has always been full of many different groups and organizations that are as different as night and day. But here’s the thing, it’s your choice who or what to believe in and support…..or not. The one thing I have always felt to be true is that the equalizer in all things diabetes is education. But it cannot be just the more you know, and that’s it. It truly needs to remain that the more you know, the more you want to know. And you seek those answers because the ever-changing world of diabetes is a constant, and will stay a constant.

This is an ever-changing world and the treatment of diabetes changes all the time. If someone feels the insulin available at Walmart works for them, and have figured out how to make it work, who am I to say other-wise? If someone feels that their child needs a diabetes-alert-dog, go for it. If change needs to happen in our country’s health care, so be it. If someone feels that walking, riding, or fund-raising for one of the many organizations in our diabetes community is something they choose to do, we should applaud their efforts. If you feel that because of pharma companies, a cure will never be found, that’s your choice.

The one question I have asked (as I write this) each day for the 10,412 days since Kaitlyn was diagnosed at age 2, and the 4,393 since Robb was diagnosed at age 13 is what can I do, today, on this day to make a difference in their world. I cannot, as I have stated a million times, just do nothing. What positive energy can I bring to this world that helps us all and does not waste a second on something that does not move us forward. I wish I had the energy for much more, but I don’t. I need to stay focused on what I can do.

I’ve learned many things over the years, made many mistakes (some real whoppers, too) in my children’s lives and in this community. But I also believe I’ve fought for change, have reached out to those in need, and supported those who I felt will bring us to that cure I one day hope for. Not tomorrow, no, but supporting those who will stay at it….because truthfully, if we don’t support these things and fight for these things……who will?

Let’s not waste one second of time tearing someone else down who is dealing with diabetes in their lives like we are. Diabetes gets enough…….it should not get that as well.
I am a diabetes dad.
Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.

2020 Owes Us an Apology….but…..


As we head into the final week of 2020, do you find yourself saying, as so many are saying, 2020 owes us an apology? What a year.

We certainly have experienced loss in our circle from COVID, as so many have and it has not been an easy year for anyone. The impact of everything COVID; from health to economy, to one of the most brutal election years ever, has left so many in pain and questioning…….well…….everything.

One of the things that I have known since the day Kaitlyn was diagnosed in 1992, is that we cannot do anything about the things that enter our lives………but WHAT we do with it defines how we will end up on the other side.

I’m not speaking of some pie-in-the-sky-life-with-rose-colored-glasses, but I am speaking of trying to move forward at all costs. Sickness, isolation, pain, loss, death cannot merely be wiped away by just sayng ‘life is good’. But what might help is to try taking a few minutes to understand what we DO HAVE as being as important of what we have lost. Take that time. Daily if needed.

Outside of listening to the news to stay informed, I have avoided being sucked into the who is right and who is wrong trying to focus on how to play a role in doing good. Helping someone or a group who have less than you do, is a great way to nurse your spirit back to health. Trust me, there are others who have less and are doing with much less than what you have. If I have learned anything about life, as unfair as it is at times, it’s much more unfair to others. Find those people, and through your pain or anger, help them. In any way small or large, help someone else.

Call someone you have not talked with in a while. Hearing that voice can be heaven. Just hearing someone REALLY want to know how you are does wonders for your heart. So make that/a call. You will be glad you did.

Find someone who inspires you. An author. A writer. A friend. And read something they wrote. Mine came from a most unlikely choice. I came across, Actually, I Can, by Morgan Panzirer almost by accident. I saw it online and what caught my attention was the title; Actually, I Can. It seemed ike a pretty bold statement from any author much less one in her late teens. Almost from the first sentence you feel Ms. Panzirer pull up a chair and sitting across from you she figuratively challenges; “let’s talk”.

At her young age, she has incredible insight which she doles out to each reader as her self-advice she shares in her autobiographical account of dealing with her type 1 diabetes. She holds nothing back sharing her highs and lows (pun intended) regarding her life. She knows she comes from a family that has allotted her much, but she shares in neither a boastful or apolegetic manner. In speaking of living with diabetes she writes, “It has made me appreciate every hour, every minute, and every second I stand on this Earth.” In these most troubled times, her understanding that anything we have should be appreciated, is an important lesson, and in many ways it is taken for granted.

And Ms. Panzirer is correct. Whatever we have should be appreciated. 2020 has allowed me to meet incrdible colleagues who have joined the DRIF, where I work, as well as those with whom I have diligently worked side-by-side for years. People who I have yet to meet in person due to COVID, who have shared their knowledge and drive to indeed keep us focusing on a cure for diabetes. It WILL NOT be here tomorrow but we will stay at it, because someone must. 2020 has introduced me to our granddaughter, who is just the brightest light ever. 2020 has been cruel as much as it has given. 2020 showed an unyielding spirit of those who care (my kids being some of them) in the dragon’s den of fire, they persevere. These people are all heroes.

In 2021, things will not be ‘righted’ very quickly at all, it will take months. A teen-age author reminded me of how much we should appreciate what IS here……..for THAT, I know I am truly blessed and you my friends are part of what I most certainly do cherish in life. Happy New Year and may 2021 move us forward as in hindsght…………2020, becomes just that.
I am a diabetes dad.
Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.

Our Kids with Diabetes…..How do they Do It?

How’s your year going?

Been a long one, has it not? Quite frankly, before this year I do not remember using words like COVID, quarantined, and isolation so much. I also hope to never use them again, in the very near future, but we are not there yet.

I’m not so sure, either, how something could get so much out of hand without control. But here we are. There’s surely enough ‘blame’ to go around but I’m not so sure that will accomplish much anyway.

There’s something occurring which needs your attention. Something that may be under the radar.  Something that is constant.  I have written on more than one occasion that everything our kids do; they do with an asterisk.  The graduations, the sports, the recitals, the dances, the successes, the failures, all of it; they do with an asterisk.

That asterisk represents a bear of a responsibility.  A bear of attention that no child should have to muster.  A bear of courage no child should be able to find.  But they do.

This time, in addition to everything else the idea of COVID tries to stare our kids down, right behind their diabetes.  It dares them to not take COVID seriously.  It dares them as a disease that could surely be impacted by having COVID piled on top.  But, as always, our loved ones with diabetes lift their chin and like that great motion in the Matrix……extend their hands and with their hand outstretched motion to, “bring it on”. 

In fact, dare them, to bring it on.

Because that is what our loved ones do and with COVID is no exception.  Our kids wake up in the morning not caring if it’s Saturday, or Monday; it’s just another day with diabetes. They muster up the strength to get through another day.  It’s almost as if they are not giving their own diabetes another thought as they go to practice or live life to the fullest.  They go on.   But make no mistake, there is not a person living with diabetes who will not tell you that it is never OUT of their mind.  It is always on their mind.

The difference is that our wonderful loved ones living with diabetes also know that they have diabetes, and diabetes does not have them.  They arm themselves every day.  They get ready.  They plan for the unexpected.  They are surely better than I could ever be.  They know who they are and unlike those who do not live life with an asterisk, they extend their hand and motion, “bring it on”.
I am a diabetes dad.
Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.


What Are We Waiting For?

How long have you been at this diabetes thing? I mean, maybe you are not REALLY in this fight, but are on the sidelines, does that sound familiar? Perhaps it’s because your child has this disease and you do not really have to do the battles, could that be it? There are always many others to pick up and continue this fight?

This fight? What does that mean? Everyday is a fight. Everyday is a chance that diabetes will win. Fight for what? To only fight again on the tomorrows that will always come? To have to do battle with everything from a disease, to an insurance company, to doctor’s office, to a list of family memebers who still, after so many years, do not have a clue what is like to share a household with diabetes.

The fight to find a cure? You know the cure that’s only five years away. It’s why people choose not to get involved. Why should we? Pharma companies are only hiding the cure; what good is one voice? Pharma companies rule everything, we stand no chance, why bother? The pain is just so much when one fights a lost cause, why bother?

Why give of one’s time, money, resources, connections, and or another ounce of whatever we have left…….why bother?

Listen for a moment…….hear that……..that sound of nothing you hear is what happens when no one does anything.

Me?

Well I believe differently. I believe one should “never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Think about that statement……..Margaret Mead’s words of “…..in fact it is the only thing that ever has.”

And the world changed. And it will again, and again, and again, but only as long as someone stands up and says that the norm will just not do. This is not easy. It’s hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it but everyone can’t. The don’t have a child with diabetes. How could they understand if they do not live it? They can’t! You can. You live it. If you do not make this world a better place for your child living with type 1 diabetes; I have a question for you, who will?

Be part of that small group. If you need inspiration, look at your child’s face while they sleep, many have lost their child to this disease while they slept. Yours will wake up tomorrow. What will you do to nake it a better place? Don’t asks someone what they think, look in the mirror and ask that person what they think? Don’t let that person in the mirror out of your sight until an answer is given. Let’s ride into hell together for that heavenly cause!

Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has. Think about it!
I am a diabetes dad.
Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.

Troubled? Yes. Give Up? Never

Hard to believe that on September 26th, we passed 28 years fighting this beast called tye 1 diabetes (t1d). On the day my daughter was diagnosed I promised her that we would not give up until the day that a biological cure was found.

When Barack Obama left the presidency, he was addressing congress when he said, “One of the few regrets of my presidency is that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse, not better.” In an interview he expanded on that point stating that he promised he would reach across the aisle and bridge that gap. The reporter started to mention some of the reasons which might explain why it hadn’t happened, but the former President would have none of it stating that he did not say he would do it ‘if’ x-y-z happened, he said he would do it.

I bring that up because the more I’m in this world, the more I believe we will find a cure. I have come to understand what that actually means over these past years. I think it’s time we challenge the research world with a little more vigor. Either something is working, or it isn’t. It is either time to solve the barriers standing between a good research project and a great research project, or pull the plug and move on.

I did not promise my daughter we would get to ‘THAT’ cure if x-y-z happened, I said we would ge there. My patience is wearing thin. My tolerance for mumbo-jumbo is at an end. If you have something, lay it on the table……..if you don’t, stop wasting your time, others’ time, and boat load of money.

I always knew this search would not be easy. The cure is not in aisle 7B as in a supermarket. But it’s out there. I’ve heard so many who have been in this battle for as long as I or longer state, I just can’t do it anymore, it’s a lie, a cure doesn’t exist.

I say, if not us being vocal about it, the sound will soon dwindle out to a mere echo of a noise within a seashell. If not us, who? I cannot stop pursuing that cure. I will challenge those in the research world across the globe. I do not mean to be disrespectful to anyone doing the work needed but the lives of my children are on the line here. If you are wasting one ounce of your energy doing something other than what you have been charged to do, you’re playing with the precious minutes of my children’s lives and with millions of others living with t1d.

My children deserve better. Please, in everything that is holy, give them your complete dedication. I ask you as a………………..
Diabetesdad

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

When Dreams Become Reality

Have you ever heard of a company called, Traf-O-Data? It processed and analyzed data but if you did not hear of it, it’s not surprising as it failed miserably. Ever hear of a small basketball franchise called the Cleveland Pipers? If you blinked, you missed them as they were created in 1960 and went bankrupt in 1962. If I told you that one of the greatest creative minds who ever lived was fired from a newspaper being told he lacked creativity, would you believe me? Well it’s true and the man was Walt Disney. The data company that failed belonged to none other than Bill Gates, and the failed basketball team was owned by George Steinbrenner. His NY Yankees, love them or hate them, are the most successful team in sports history with 27 World Series wins; not bad for a team purchased for 8.8 million dollars. in 2019, Forbes magazine reported the team’s worth at 4.6 billions—that’s with a “B”.

No one likes to go through loses, or getting it wrong; but when you believe in something, you stay at it. I have never met a parent, ever, who at the onset of their child’s diagnosis did not wonder how they would get through the next week, much less the upcoming years. As parents we ask the question, “How?”

Something happens while at the hospital, it is a light switch turned on. You make a decision.You look at that wonderful miracle entrusted to you and you resolve yourself, WE WILL MAKE IT. And one day becomes a week, and a month, a year, 5 years, ten years. The smell you remember from the first time you entered the hospital, the first bus ride, sports tryouts, step-up, dance classes, sports teams, graduation, college, marriage.

I don’t have a multi-million dollar sports franchise or company. What I have, what I have been given, is a grandchild. After Victoria and I met for the first time, I walked out of my daughter’s house and took a ride to seven-eleven, had a cup of coffee……..and I cried like a baby. We had won the Superbowl. She is so beautiful and we are all so fortunate.

On September 26, 1992, the day Kaitlyn was diagnosed, the reality I am now in was beyond anything I could ever think of coming to pass; Victoria Lynn. The way Kaitlyn has lived her life with no boundaries. Taking any set back and saying, “Okay, that’s now, that’s not tomorrow.” And how she taught us when she said in an interview at age nine, “…..oh no…..I have diabetes, diabetes IS NOT who I am.” And she has lived that every day of her life. Good times, bad times, set backs, successes, becoming a wife, becoming a Board Certified Nurse Practitioner, and now becoming a mom.

When she was diagnosed, we took it on. At a point we gave it back to her and stayed in full view. Now we just stay observe, enjoy, smile. We smile a lot. She married a man who has taken it on. A very good man. Together they will succeed. A long way since we said, “How will we get through today?” We found our answer, one step at a time. One. Step. At. A. Time.
I am a diabetes dad.
Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.

Lisa Awards 2020, Powerhouses in Our Diabetes World and One Personal Recognition

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

From “A” DiabetesDad

As you read in the title, I am a DiabetesDad.  Never said I was ‘the’ diabetesdad, we are many.  Today is Father’s Day.  Happy Father’s Day to all of you who are fortunate enough to have someone in your life who calls you dad.  In our children’s lives, we are ‘the’ dad.  Unless you are in the small number of families with two dads, being a dad is a unique and definitive.  You, are dad.

There is a world around us, some say crumbling around us, some say challenging around us, some just say there is a world around us.  In any given time in our history people have declared that this moment in time is like none other before.  Good, bad, different put aside, this moment in time is today.  What will you do with it?

I have three incredible kids.  I have a son-in-law and a daughter-in-law (to be) who I consider child #4 and child #5, they are THAT special to me and I count myself “that lucky”.  We are not a perfect family and if you asked any of us, we would laugh at that notion.  What we are, is, together.  We can call each other when we need to talk.  We can call each other for the good, the bad, when fearful, and sometimes for no reason at all.

When the cell phone says a name of one of my kids as it begins to ‘buzz’, I undoubtedly will smile.  Thinking of them makes me smile.  My oldest is active in his community.  He has put his life on the line more times than I can count.  Proud is the word that comes to mind.  My second child is the type that is sincerely giddy at opening stocking stuffers and she is wicked -smart.  It’s fun to see her enjoying the moment.  My youngest is both the business guy and computer geek.  His knowledge is incredible and his insight uncanny. I envy his knowledge.

We are all fairly opinionated.  We make each other laugh.  We make each other think.  Probably no one can get under our skin as well and we can rarely feel as safe as when one of them has our backs.  We are, family.  I’m not sure how other families work but mine are truly the air my lungs need to breath.  Perfect is about as far as can be from who we are but we are…..us. 

Each day I begin with the thought of each of them.  I love them to bits.  It’s my hope they continue to grow and thrive.  To help those less fortunate, be accepting of people who differ from them in their thoughts, actions, appearances and beliefs.  To not think they are better or worse than the next one.  To give a hand when needed and touch a hand when helping others.  To learn, listen, and above all laugh.  To not take themselves so seriously.

This is my family and these kids make me a father.  It is my sincerest hope that all of you are surrounded by family because at the end of the day, family is what it’s all about.  Happy father’s day to all of you.
I am a diabetes dad.
Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.

New Heroes Emerge Everyday

I don’t know if hero is a word Mike Otten likes, or is even comfortable to be called. Perhaps in-line with his business at Sequa Deli and Caterers of Patchogue, hero means what it should, a great sandwich and surely Mike’s store is one of the best at that.

Perhaps Mike is just a really smart business man. But if you know Mike, you know he has found himself in the middle of messy situations before, all having nothing to do with himself. During those times he’s known to rise to the situation-at-hand. Those who know him, know the feeling of hair standing up on the back of your neck as he explains his personal story regarding 911. It was also personal tragedy losing family members on that day, as well. It’s a story for a different day. But surely ask him about it some day.

Interesting point about heroes; if you know one, you know they don’t think about what they are doing as some great feat of heroism, they just do what’s got to be done. They do when no one else will do. They do what they do with all of their heart and soul. They say, “It’s my job.”

Truth be known, Mike Otten is a guy I love like a brother. Working at my desk, what seems like a million years ago, my phone rang. On the other end of the call was a dad. A dad to a child newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. His questions were great questions. His thirst for knowledge was admirable. I hung up the phone thinking, this is a man I will like for a long time. And I surely have. Mike is not a mushy kind of guy. He’s direct. He’s not afraid to ask hard questions. He’s also a guy that when needed, he’s the one you want behind you. Because when he’s with you, he’s with you all the way.

So it’s more than just a great businessman who keeps Sequa Deli open during times like these. Probably the first store open at the time when this all started and the first one open each morning. You see, many people stop at his store every day. They rely on that morning stop for coffee, or whatever, to get them going to help others. Mike quickly learned this and did what was needed to be there for them. And as we have learned, it’s more than just the first responders and medical teams who are heroes these days. Of late it’s also the guy on the corner who gets his store open so all of those people on the front line will have a fresh coffee; and a person in the neighborhood has a place to turn for items needed. Those in the supermarkets, and those who deliver packages, and our mail, and are out there doing what needs to get done in an air that is less than safe.

I’m sure more than just a few cups of coffee have been given away to those who frequent Mike’s store. Mike’s like that. It’s about the problem at hand. It’s about people. It’s about giving back. If you’re on Long Island in the Patchogue area, see what a real hero looks like. He or she may be in scrubs, may be in a police uniform, a first responders uniform, but they could also be in a red supermarket jacket or even a white apron behind a deli counter. Heroes are where they need to be and they are who we need them to be at a time most needed. Mike Otten is such a hero, and it’s not new to him at all.
I am a diabetes dad.
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