A Cover Star
A teen diabetes advocate goes the distance to make connections
When the beta cells fail, perseverance takes off. Case in point: Evelyn Schommer, 13, who lives with type 1 diabetes. You may remember Evelyn holding a diabetes go-bag on the January 2012 cover of Diabetes Forecast. She was already a strong advocate for the cause—as a 2011 American Diabetes Association Youth Ambassador, she spoke about life with diabetes and organized fund-raising walks in her community after participating in one at school.
The Association asked, “What can you do to top this year?” Evelyn and her dad, Jonas R., mom, Nancy, and younger brother, Jonas D., took it as a challenge to do something big. They decided to swap Diabetes Forecast covers with other stars. You may have heard of a few of them: Bret Michaels, Crystal Bowersox, Sam Fuld, Natalie Strand, MD, and Nick Jonas. Meeting people with diabetes who do amazing things was part of the family’s philosophy: This lifelong condition won’t hold you back.
“The first person we swapped with was Bret Michaels,” says Jonas R. Schommer, who contacted people who helped the family meet the rock star during a local concert. A beverage vendor at the event venue heard the story and gave his two meet-and-greet passes to the family. Then Schommer received a call from Michaels’s manager and two more passes. The entire family was able to meet Michaels, who asked and answered many questions in their five-minute session.
Since then, the family has set up 10 meet-ups across the country and has swapped other covers by mail. They greeted outfielder Fuld at a Tampa Bay Rays–Baltimore Orioles game at Camden Yards, tennis star Elizabeth Profit at an El Monte, California, hotel on her way to a tennis meet, and The Amazing Race winner Strand at a juice shop between errands, which included shopping for her wedding.
Evelyn found out that pitcher Brandon Morrow wears an insulin pump on his waistband just like she does. She empathized with Michaels and Bowersox, who both have been rushed to the hospital because of a blood glucose emergency, just like her.
Evelyn sees that diabetes helps her connect with others and make a difference. She says that she volunteers for the Association and other organizations because “it’s really nice to help by raising money for diabetes. It makes me feel good about myself by helping myself and others with diabetes.”
Evelyn knows there’s no stopping people with diabetes. “Diabetes doesn’t make me any different from anyone else,” she says. “And diabetes isn’t something to be sorry for. I would say that, personally, living with diabetes gives me a challenge every day.”
Thank you, Evelyn, for taking on that challenge!