Managing Type 1 diabetes can often be isolating and challenging, especially for children. However, thanks to a recent casino-themed fundraiser, Diabetes Canada will send 32 local children to a camp where their disease is understood.
D-Camp is similar to any other camp, complete with mountain biking, rope courses and canoeing; the main difference is that before every meal and activity, the campers check their insulin levels.
Here, kids don't have to explain the requirements of their disease to their peers because every camper is diabetic. With round-the-clock medical staff, the camp provides children with a sense of freedom while teaching them lifelong skills, like carb counting and insulin adjustments, to manage their diabetes.
"It's a pretty unique and special place," explained Lindsay Wig, community fundraising and events manager at Diabetes Canada, adding that it also gives the parents a chance to relax, knowing their child is in good hands.
"A lot of our camper parents will say, 'it was one of the first times we didn't have to worry about their diabetes because we knew they were safe and learning and enjoying themselves.'"
"It takes a disease that can be isolating and challenging, that can cause some mental health problems in young children, and it gives them a sense of freedom and independence and lifelong skills to manage their diabetes," Wig said.
The casino fundraiser, which included a violinist, Vegas show-girls and a strolling illusionist to entertain the 180 attendees, surpassed its goal of $75,000 and raised around $80,000 — which will go toward sending the kids to D-camp.
The evening, which was hosted by Georgetown Toyota, included an outstanding achievement award going to a healthcare professional and a camp spirit award received by smiling Nicolas Fortura, a 12-year-old D-Camper.
Nicolas’s mom spoke about how the camp gave her son a sense of independence, while Nicolas said going to D-Camp was the first time he met other kids with diabetes, and he didn't have to feel different while counting his carbs or have to explain his disease.
To learn more about D-Camp visit the Diabetes Canada website.