Three Super-Special Diabetes Advocates
If you have diabetes, or love someone who does, you know it’s a tough, frustrating and unfair disease. Daily diabetes management is a constant challenge that affects those with the disease as well as their friends, family and support systems. In my 25 years as a registered-dietitian nutritionist and certified diabetes educator, I’ve been inspired by many people who advocate for people with diabetes. On this World Diabetes Day, I want to recognize Tom Karlya (AKA Diabetes Dad), Max “Mr. Diavabetic” Szadek and Toby Smithson for their tireless efforts as diabetes advocates. They are all very special to me personally (I love them all so very much) and I know they will inspire you as well!
Tom Karlya has been active in diabetes causes since his daughter, Kaitlyn, was diagnosed in 1992 at the age of two. His son, Rob, was also diagnosed in 2009 at the age of 13. As an advocate, Tom has been to the New York State Capitol, testified in Washington, D.C., appeared at diabetes-related events at the United Nations, and served as a panelist or keynote speaker internationally. Tom is the daily author at www.DiabetesDad.org where his articles inspire parents and people with diabetes that diabetes CAN BE lived with every day. In fact people can thrive and be hugely successful.
Tom’s focus is a cure for kids. For over 12 years he has been a staff member at the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation raising funds for a cure.
I believe in all my heart that a cure will come and I also believe the DRI will be a major part of that effort. That said, we also have to make sure people ‘live in the now’ and we do all we can to educate and help those who live with it daily.
His latest effort, A Child’s Cry for Change, an effort for better diabetes awareness and in particular; an effort for DKA recognition at the early stages so no one is ever again diagnosed with T1 upon their death; has led to two initiatives. Get Diabetes Right; a Facebook page he created with Kim May (a d-mom in Texas) which allows people to download posters for free. The other initiative is in a co-operative with the National Association of School Nurses who have embarked on a campaign to remind their membership watch for DKA signs when they come in with flu-like symptoms. Recently they sent an education piece to over 16,000 school nurses. If we save one life it will be worth it.
Max “Mr. Divabetic” Szadek
Founder, Executive Director, and Host of Diva TalkRadio
Max Szadek aka ‘Mr. Divabetic’ is the founder and executive director of Divabetic® and the happy healthcare host of Diva TalkRadio. Max began Divabetic® in 2004 as a one-time fundraising endeavor after his late boss, R&B legend Luther Vandross, suffered a stroke. Szadek launched Divabetic®, a health and wellness organization that takes a “Glam More, Fear Less” approach to educational outreach. It’s the word diabetic with a “v” for Vandross, which also means being “vocal” says Max. The media attention that Vandross received as a stroke survivor is what initially compelled Max to get involved in diabetes outreach. That Vandross’s stroke could have been prevented has been the motivating force behind Max’s efforts.
I’m on a mission to change attitudes in women affected by diabetes. I want to help women at risk, affected by and living with diabetes to stay healthy and upbeat about their care so they can continue to enjoy the glamorous life. I’ve put together a team of nationally recognized beauty/fashion experts, certified diabetes educators, motivators and peers who help women makeover their diabetes. … I make time during each Divabetic® show to recognize and reward positive efforts in women living with diabetes to stay healthy.
Max is exceptionally creative and engaging in his approach to making people with diabetes feel good about themselves and their lives. Divabetic is a nonprofit organization which began in New York. Today, Divabetic® is available in 22 cities across the United States. Max wears his signature “Fruit Suit” to remind people to feel the “glam” and eat more healthfully.
Toby Smithson founded DiabetesEveryDay to provide guidance and daily support to people with diabetes, and few could possibly be more qualified. Toby is a nationally recognized Registered Dietitian (a National Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics), a Certified Diabetes Educator, and author of Diabetes Meal Planning and Nutrition for Dummies. But most importantly, Toby has more than 45 years experience managing her own diabetes successfully and holding off the potentially disastrous complications; a remarkable achievement.
Toby knows that the self-management aspect of diabetes can be challenging but even so, doing well is absolutely possible. As a professional she knows that this manageable yet chronic disease continues to take lives and limbs from many who have been unable to adopt the lifestyle necessary to preserve their health. Enough! Her guidance goes beyond the standard “take your medicine, eat better and get more exercise” to uncover the barriers to effective diabetes management behaviors and build a strong foundation for long term health.
Toby’s vision is that actually seeing how to do effective diabetes management will tip the balance for some who struggle. That DiabetesEveryDay will reinforce the guidance people receive from their doctor and medical care team and make a substantial difference in their lives.
Thank you, Tom, Max and Toby for advocating, educating and supporting people with diabetes and their loved ones. You continue to inspire all of us to keep going each and every day.
Susan Weiner, MS, RDN, CDE, CDN is the 2015 American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) Diabetes Educator of the Year, and the recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Alumna Award from SUNY Oneonta. She co-authored The Complete Diabetes Organizer: Your Guide to a Less Stressful and More Manageable Diabetes Life (Spry 2013) with professional organizer Leslie Josel. Susan was recently voted one of the 10 top diabetes nutrition education bloggers by iVillage.com. She is the diabetes medical advisor for healthline.com and is on the advisory board of several diabetes organizations. Susan earned her master’s degree in applied physiology and nutrition from Columbia University.
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