People to Know 2016: Aiden Dine
The first time I saw Aiden Dine, he was standing on a chair in front of over 100 advocates and professional football players. In a room full of towering guys, he should have been easy to miss—11 years old, barely waist high, and weighing a fraction of what most players regularly bench—but instead he commanded the room. I was there with the rest of Team Tackle, the American Diabetes Association’s crew of 45 football players committed to stopping diabetes, for the Association’s Capitol Hill Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C.
I had really been looking forward to the trip to our nation’s capital and was honored to be there. As with any new experience, there were some nerves. We had all played in front of sold-out crowds with tens of thousands of screaming fans, but this was different.
Good thing we had Aiden in our corner. In a crisp black suit and bright red glasses, Aiden had the poise of a guy three times his age. He stood on that chair and said, “You all know football. We know diabetes. We’ve got your back.”
As a professional football player, I know what it’s like to have kids look up to you. To admire you. But in that moment, as Aiden rallied the team, I was the fan—amazed by his grace and maturity, his ability to speak on the level of lawmakers, and his drive as a diabetes advocate fighting for research and program funding.
Later that day, in front of our elected leaders, we all shared our stories about how diabetes has touched our lives, but it was Aiden whose personal story of living with diabetes inspired not only lawmakers and advocates but players like me.
Diabetes: Type 1
Age Diagnosed: 15 months
Sam Martin is a professional football player and punter for Detroit, ranking in the top three in the league for his position. He’s no stranger to diabetes: His grandfather passed away after suffering from complications of type 1. His grandfather’s memory inspired him to join the American Diabetes Association’s Team Tackle, a group of current and former professional football players who amplify the Association’s message and increase support for its mission. He recently took to Capitol Hill to urge lawmakers to fund research for a cure for diabetes.
Detroit No. 6
Hometown: Peachtree, Ga.