This is my second interview with the lovely and talented Quinn Nystrom about her latest venture in Diabetes Advocacy.
Q: You were diagnosed with diabetes as a child and went to Camp Needlepoint. How did this camp change the way you saw diabetes?
A: I assumed that going to a diabetes camp was going to be a horrible experience. I had just been diagnosed 5 months prior and the last thing I wanted to talk about was this new chronic illness. I thought we would be sitting through long lectures from doctors who were going to tell us the severity of diabetes, the do’s and don’t’s, and that it was just going to be one long educational session. Instead, camp taught me how to live my life DESPITE having diabetes. I was surrounded around other people who were going through the exact same thing I was. I learned that having type-1 diabetes came down to me making a choice: victor or victim? After spending a week there I wanted to be the victor against diabetes.
Q: Did you return to camp every summer? Did you maintain the friendships you made there?
A: I attended camp three summers in a row and then visited three more times, once when I was National Youth Advocate for the ADA, the summer that my little brother Will (he has type-1 too) was a camp counselor) and then again last summer as a Community Board Member for the ADA. My very first time I went to camp I became very close with my cabin. It was cool because it was boys and girls (we slept in different platform tents) so I got to see how diabetes affected people in different ways. I became best friends with a girl named Nicole and we ended up setting up visits to meet outside of our camp week. Some nights we even slept in the same bunk bed because we didn’t want to be separated from our “diabuddy.”
Q: Tell me about your inspiration for Dateline Diabetes, and where did the name come from?
A. When I was diagnosed at the age of 13 I desperately needed to talk to someone who had already had diabetes for a couple of years. In the doctor’s office I couldn’t see past today, I needed someone to help me have hope with my future goals and dreams. I created Dateline Diabetes because I saw a need out there, and I wanted to help do what I can to help fill that. My inspiration for calling the nonprofit “Dateline Diabetes” is because dateline is defined as “a line giving the place of origin and usually the date of a news dispatch or the like.” The work that I do comes from my own personal story with having a chronic illness for the past 13 years, and I want other to feel empowered to tell their journey.
Dateline Diabetes serves two specific purposes. First, we provide Baskets of Hope to recently diagnosed diabetics under the age of 25. It will include items such as:
Diabetes educational material
A journal & markers
Information on how to get set-up with a mentor.
As well, the parents of the diagnosed will have an opportunity to get set-up with another parent who has a child with diabetes. Second, Dateline Diabetes providesdiabetes camp scholarships to people living with type-1 diabetes who cannot afford to attend. (Check out the ADA camp listing.)
Q: How this will work? Can parents apply for scholarships, and how will you choose where the money will go?
A: I’m in the process of waiting to hear back from the IRS if Dateline Diabetes qualifies to be a 501(c)3 charity. The Secretary of State has it already filed as a non-profit as of last November. I’ve heard the waiting game can be up to 8 months to hear back from the IRS.
I’m working with a new web developer to redo my entire website so starting this summer people will be able to go on to the site and
1. Fill out a form requesting a Basket of Hope.
2. Apply for a camp scholarship to be paid directly to the ADA camp of their choice (criteria will be based on personal passion for life as well as if they’re in financial need).
Parents are allowed to help a child with the application, but what we’re looking for is getting to know the future camper’s personality and zest for life.
3. Make a donation to the charity.
Q: Camp is such a fantastic support system, how can people carry the life lessons learned in camp through the challenges of life with diabetes?
A: The lessons that I learned at the age of 13 at Camp Needlepoint I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I realized that I didn’t get a choice in getting diagnosed with type-1 diabetes, but I certainly got the choice on how I was going to react. Nobody else could make that decision but me.
By the way, my current site is under construction, but the new site will launch this summer (hopefully in June) and will have all the information regarding dateline diabetes. Www.datelinediabetes.org
We’ll keep you posted on Quinn’s progress with Dateline Diabetes….