Kate Kermicle Gets Support and Gives Back
At 22 years old, Kate Kermicle of Chattanooga, Tenn., is the picture of health: She's an avid golfer who is devoted to aerobics classes. She's careful about what she eats—she'll "always choose a salad over a hamburger and french fries." And yet, in the summer of 2010, she could feel she was getting really sick. On Sept. 23, 2010, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
The diagnosis left Kermicle reeling. She knew hardly anything about diabetes, and her misconceptions made her believe that her diagnosis was "a death sentence." "I had assumed that people typically got diabetes through a lifetime of bad decisions or that it was . . . passed from generation to generation," she says.
At the time of her diagnosis, Kermicle was a senior at the University of Alabama, trying to find a job for after graduation. The addition of a health problem seemed overwhelming, she says, until her doctor suggested she check out the American Diabetes Association's website. That's when she started to feel better about her diagnosis. "The first couple of months you feel so alone, and nobody knows what you're going through," she says. "The ADA and [Diabetes Forecast] really helped me connect."
After graduation, grateful for the information and support the ADA provides, Kermicle decided she wanted to give back to the Association. Back in her hometown of Olney, Ill., she found a kindred spirit in Kimberly Hall, 30, the instructor of her group fitness classes. Hall's father had recently died after having diabetes complications, and her own diagnosis of gestational diabetes was what had inspired her to become a fitness instructor and personal trainer.
So, Kermicle and Hall hatched a plan to host a Hips, Butts, and Guts for Diabetes fund-raiser in Olney. Hall led two aerobics classes to benefit the ADA, and Kermicle organized the event and informed participants about diabetes, raising nearly $400. "It kind of touched home," Hall says of the fund-raiser. "[We were] just bringing awareness to people. Eating right, exercise: A lot of people don't recognize . . . how that will help out."
Hips, Butts, and Guts focused on not just aerobic exercise but also strength training and "problem areas" where people might carry extra weight. In her small hometown (population 8,631), Kermicle says, she knew no one else with type 1 diabetes. Telling what it was like to have the disease meant the world to her. "I was really overwhelmed by the support," she says. "It felt like the community had not only shown me but the American Diabetes Association a great deal of support. It was a great experience sharing my personal story with everyone."
After the fund-raiser, Kermicle began the next stage of her life, moving to Chattanooga to start a new job as a district manager for a supermarket chain, vacationing in Europe, and learning to use her insulin pump. She says she manages with the support of family and friends, as well as the ADA.