When Sarah Minacs was 12, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease that attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. A dancer and competitive cheerleader, Sarah struggled with feelings of being “different” – until she attended D-Camps at Camp Huronda in Muskoka.
D-Camps is a national Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) program designed to give children and young people with diabetes the full, carefree camp experience while meeting new friends and also learning to better manage their diabetes.
Inspired by Sarah’s positive experience at D-Camps, her father Jack Minacs joined Team Diabetes, the national, physical activity fundraising program of the CDA, “as a way to give back.
“My wife and I have two daughters and a son, and Sarah, who is now 15, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2011. Within a year of her diagnosis, I became pretty actively involved in fundraising with the CDA,” he says.
“We hope for a cure – our long-term goal is that one day, kids like Sarah won’t have to deal with having diabetes. But in the meantime, just to live a healthy life, emotionally as well as physically, Sarah needs a lot of support in the community, and that’s what the CDA does for us.”
At first, Sarah didn’t want to go to D-Camps, Mr. Minacs says. “We had a lot of people recommend that she go, but she was not really interested. She thought she’d be lectured about eating and all that, but what the camp does is just let those kids be kids. They’re very well monitored medically, and for families, it’s like two weeks of freedom from diabetes.”
Sarah went from feeling unenthusiastic to “‘This is the best place in the world, I never want to leave – finally I realize that there’s other kids out there just like me,’” says Mr. Minacs. “It was really inspiring for her and for us as a family, and that’s really what prompted me to get involved with fundraising.”
After Sarah was diagnosed and given insulin, she started feeling better right away. But it was just the beginning of a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week care regimen that requires checking blood glucose (sugar) frequently to be sure she was getting enough insulin – but not too much insulin – while monitoring her carbohydrate intake and energy output.
“The CDA provides information and support, which is just so important to living with diabetes,” he says. “It’s a constant battle, but you keep pushing through. And when you start reading about how prevalent diabetes is, you know how much more there is to be done. There are just so many people living with diabetes. I’m proud to support the Canadian Diabetes Association, because it helps so many people across Canada.”