So hard to believe another year has gone by. Each year around June (her birthday), in honor of my friend Lisa Carlinsky, I bestow my Lisa Awards — kudos to people who understand the power of one person. To people who, in their own way, changing the world just like Lisa did.
My friend Lisa passed away in 2009, at the young age of 36. She battled cancer longer than any doctor thought she would. 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 (her husband, who is as close to me as any brother) shared their writings of her journey 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.
So my 2016 Lisa Awards go to:
The Family of Little Reegan. As I thought about this, and after meeting their family; each and every one of them played a role in making sure Reegan’s Rule became law in North Carolina; the first of its kind. Much has been written and many others became involved. But when there was no one around, when there was no one fighting the battle, when there was no one to help…..there was the Family of Little Reagan. They received a promise that their little girl would change the world. With the movement to stop missing the diagnosis of diabetes picking up steam, that promise will be fulfilled. This one little girl, the power of one, in her short lifetime may very well impact the welfare of kids around the world more than those who have many more years to achieve it.
Representative Charles Graham and Senator Jane Smith of North Carolina. These two people could not be more different from their personalities to their political affiliations…..and yet….they reached across the aisle and worked tirelessly in the efforts to make Reegan’s Rule the law of the land. One has no idea just how hard it is go through the entire process in making an idea become law. The bipartisanship and the wisdom of these two elected officials are something the rest of the country should stand up and take notice. Each a power of one in their own right, came together to accomplish the impossible; on October 20th, 2015, Reegan’s Rule was signed into law by the Governor of North Carolina. Bravo to all who made a difference.
GLU/T1DExcgange is my third Lisa Award Recipient. This organization is presently undergoing an incredible outreach to capture the data that could help present a roadmap of change in the years to come on the missed diagnosis of T1D. Anna Floreen, Dr. Henry Anhalt and Executive Director Dana Ball (and Co-founder of T1DExchange) are the ones in the forefront but here has been so much work done from people we will never know to make their newest survey regarding missed diagnosis a reality, that truly the fair thing to do is pay tribute to the entire organization. Many components making up the power of one to change the world we live in, GLU/T1SExchange embodies Lisa spirit as few others ever could. This data will indeed change the world.
My fourth Lisa Award winner is D-Mom Blogger, author and super advocate, Leighann Calentine. Her Kids First, Diabetes Second has always been and continues to be a must read and her blog should be visited as often as possible. Her wit, style, and direct-from-the-hip delivery will enlighten you, inspire you, challenge you, and let you on a little secret—-parents can really have a life outside this diabetes journey. She is as humorous as she is poignant. When reading anything she writes, one always feels like a really good friend has sat down next to you in the biggest easy chair to talk with you. And like a true friend, she does not always tell you what you want to hear; she tells you what is real. Her long list of awards and accolades are only surpassed by her huge heart to make a difference in our world. She is a powerhouse, and all done as Leighann would do it…..with integrity and honesty.
So these are the Lisa Award winners this year. And as always when I write this annul column, it brings me back to a woman who I cherished. He son is growing-up to be a fine young man and in a wonderful way. Mark (my adopted brother), her husband, has found love again; as Lisa would want it. And life is moving on. But Lisa will always and in all ways be present. And in as much as I love doing this article every year, I still miss our friend, Lisa. She was some power-of-one.
Congratulations to this year’s recipients.
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