JDRF recognizes Caroline Sweeney as our Cure Champion this month for her tireless work in the community, and for her outstanding support of JDRF and its mission.
“I became involved with JDRF shortly after my 12 year old son, Aidan, was diagnosed with T1D over 10 years ago. He was only 22 months old. At that time, I was also pregnant with my second child. As Aidan lay in intensive care in DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis), I felt completely overwhelmed, scared, and helpless. I vowed to Aidan at that moment to help find a cure for diabetes. JDRF soon became my biggest comfort and source of hope.
I strongly believe in the mission of JDRF. During my years volunteering for JDRF, I have seen many advances in our journey to a cure. I have had the pleasure of wearing many “hats” as Walk Co-Chair, Walk Committee Member, Bag of Hope Mentor, Fund Raising Events Volunteer, 2007 Children’s Congress Parent, Advocacy Team Chair, and most recently Walk Family Team Chair. I have appeared on both television and radio interviews, as well as featured in newspaper and magazine articles, promoting JDRF and Diabetes awareness. Each year, I travel to Capitol Hill for JDRF’s Government Day where I meet with our Senators and Representatives to support diabetes funding.
As a volunteer, Walk Day has become my favorite day of the year. It’s a day where my family and friends walk team, Aidan’s Activists, gathers for fun and inspiration with hundreds of others in Maine hoping for a cure. Children and adults (many for the first time) are able to pull out their meters, prick their fingers, count carbs, and even experience “highs and lows” with people just like them. They are able to share, laugh, celebrate, and unite against this big fight we call T1D. It’s a day where everyone leaves feeling rejuvenated.
I have learned first-hand, that our voices are being heard and are making a difference. In 2006, shortly after giving birth to my third child, Aidan and I had the privilege of testifying before Congress with Aidan on the Development of the Artificial Pancreas and Continuous Glucose Monitor. Frustrated and exhausted from diabetes, I was desperate. I shared these feelings and experiences raising a child with diabetes in my testimony to Congress. I watched their faces change as they listened intently and even wiped away tears. During the hearing, these technologies seemed like a distant dream to me. I could not imagine looking at a device and seeing Aidan’s blood sugar without pricking his finger. But, last spring, years later, this dream came true when Aidan held and operated the artificial pancreas at a research briefing in Portland, Maine. To me, he held his future in his hands. It was a tremendous gift of hope to us both. And, last fall, Aidan began successfully wearing a continuous glucose monitor which is now available to anyone living with T1D! This has allowed him more freedom in so many aspects of life and given me more peace than I have had in the last ten years. For that, I am beyond grateful.
Thanks to the research at JDRF, Aidan is leading a better life than ever. Therapies like the artificial pancreas, beta cell encapsulation, smart insulin, and many others are just around the corner. I know that with your continued support and donations, Aidan will one day live a life free from diabetes.
I am honored to be named the July Cure Champion. I dedicate this to Aidan and all those living with T1D, who are the true champions. I’m just a Mom that made a promise to her son. And I’m never giving up.”
Submitted by: Caroline Sweeney