I was diagnosed with diabetes at age eight, and I haven’t lived a day without blood sugar monitors and insulin shots since. If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past quarter of a century, it’s that my diabetes is not about to hold me back, and it never will.
I love sharing what I’ve learned on this blog, but at the end of the day no one can better speak to just how limitless life with diabetes can be than these extraordinary individuals.
Jay Culter – NFL Quarterback
I’ve mentioned Jay Cutler on my blog before, and for good reason. A lot of people dream of making it to the NFL and playing football at a professional level, but most of them will never even get close. With diabetes, it seems almost impossible — but that’s exactly what Jay Cutler did. He tells fans that he carefully monitors his blood sugar at all times, making sure to go into each game at 100 and 150 mg/dL and checking every time he leaves the field between the first and second quarters. He strives to be open about his disease, taking his insulin shots wherever and whenever he needs them. Most of all, he doesn’t let anyone limit him, saying, “When they use diabetes as the reason for a bad game, I can say I’ve played more good games than bad ones with diabetes.”
Chris Dudley, NBA
Chris Dudley was diagnosed with T1D at age sixteen. His biggest fear was not being able to play the sport he loved, but he defied all expectations — even his own — and went on to play in the league for 16 years, earning respect for his performance in 886 games. To help others follow their dreams the way he did, he started the Chris Dudley Foundation and basketball camps to inspire kids with diabetes to live well and healthily despite the disease.
Gary Hall, Olympic Swimmer
When Gary Hall was diagnosed with diabetes, he was told he would never compete again. That very year, he won his first (but not last) individual gold medal for America in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Four years later, he took home both a gold and bronze medal, making him the oldest man in 80 years to win gold for the U.S. He went on to work intensely in fundraising efforts for a cure. He’s earned every right to announce, “Diabetes doesn’t have to stand between you and your dreams.”
Kris Freedman, Olympic Skier
Despite living with diabetes, Kris Freedman hasn’t missed a single Olympic Game since 2002. Monitoring your blood glucose during intense physical activity can be tough work for anyone — Freedman does it at 7,000 feet! The disease makes everything a little more complicated, he says, but “Diabetes only gets in the way when you let it. It can be very difficult at times, but you’ve got to push through the hard times. It’s not always going to go right, but if it doesn’t go right, you can learn better for next time.”
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court
It isn’t just sports heroes who are breaking boundaries for people with diabetes. When Justice Sotomayor was appointed to the United States Supreme Court, many questioned whether her lifelong diabetes (diagnosed at age 8) would hold her back and make her unfit for the job. She proved the naysayers wrong when she was sworn in as the first justice of the high court to serve with Type 1.
Victor Garber, Actor
The long days on set must have been trying, but it didn’t stop Victor Garber from earning six Emmy Award nominations and appearing on television, in movies, and on the stage. You might know him from “Alias,” “Titanic,” and “Sweeny Todd.” Today, he works to support children who think their lives are over when they are diagnosed, and he stands as pretty great proof of how wrong they are.