People to Know 2017: Courtney Duckworth
For Courtney Duckworth, the name of the game is communication. On the ice, where she’s a Red Rockers cheerleader for the National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals, she’s conveying excitement to stands packed with fans.
As a pro hockey player, I understand the power of a roaring crowd.
Off the ice, she’s talking diabetes—her own type 1 diagnosis at age 10, using an insulin pump, and what it takes to manage blood glucose during high-intensity sports. The 23-year-old Virginia native emphasizes the need to reach out and touch others who are traveling the same path.
As a person with type 1, I understand the power in sharing our diabetes stories.
Courtney’s willingness to do just that is part of why she’s so inspiring. Here’s the other part: She’s not just a pro cheerleader. She’s run four marathons, including the Boston Marathon in 2015. And she works at the National Institutes of Health as a research fellow studying metabolism and people with metabolic disorders. She’s applied to some of the nation’s top medical schools and hopes to start in the summer of 2018.
“If there is a message for kids, or anyone else with diabetes, it’s knowing there is a way to reach their goals,” she says. “Out-of-range numbers can be discouraging, but we can work systemically to find strategies to help us achieve tighter control during activities we love to do most.”
For me, switching to an insulin pump as a preteen was a game-changer. With well-managed blood glucose, I play my best on the ice. And now that I have a continuous glucose monitor, I’m not as worried about surprise lows during games.
“With advances in technology and medicine, there’s great progress being made,” Courtney says. “And we will continue to find even better strategies for obstacles life with type 1 diabetes throws our way.”
The Author: Cory Conacher is a professional hockey player for the American Hockey League’s Syracuse Crunch. He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 8 and, as a teen, cut from a team because of his diabetes. That motivated him to prove to the world that people with diabetes can live their dreams. Since then, he’s played for teams around the globe. Between seasons, he works with DSkate, a hockey camp for kids with diabetes, and runs a charity golf tournament to raise funds for diabetes research.