Powered by Empathy: Camp Seale Harris

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“Empathy is our ability to feel with someone.”  That’s how Brené Brown so clearly defines it in this RCA short.

We learn empathy from the traumas we’ve all faced in our lives. The beauty of this means our traumas don’t always have to be about the scars they leave. Instead, they can feed our strength and ability to give back or provide a positive influence in our own unique way.

For me, a surprise type 1 diabetes diagnosis served as my purpose for community outreach.

While there are many fantastic mission-driven organizations in and around Pensacola, the mission of Camp Seale Harris is near and dear to my heart.

March 10th will be my 5-year “dia-versary.”

Five years ago, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

I was 27 years old and in the midst of preparing for our wedding day and honeymoon, just four short weeks away.

Long story short, I took advantage of a free physical exam from an insurance company that wanted to sell me a policy. When my results came back, the agent who is also a close friend, called me frantically to relay the troubling blood work. By the sound of his voice on the other end of the phone, I could tell he was scared for me. I had a blood sugar of 400 and an A1C of 13.9. Neither of us really understood what these numbers meant, but he said his clinical team strongly recommended that I go to the ER. Immediately.

After two trips to the ER, a fainting spell, a misdiagnosis for type 2 diabetes (understand the difference between type 1 and type 2 here), I was officially diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic. In a matter of hours, I was prescribed insulin pens, a glucometer, introduced to a crash course on carb counting.

My world was flipped upside down.

My husband and I were both in shock and terrified. Our lifestyle was changing drastically. Instead of the blissful entrance into marriage we had planned and prepared for, we were thrust into a lifestyle where everything was new.

Not in an exciting way, but a very scary, unknown sort of way.

Fast forward to today, I have five years of diabetes under my belt –a healthy marriage, a beautiful baby girl, and most surprisingly, I’m fulfilled in ways I wouldn’t have begun to imagine without a diabetes diagnosis.

This diagnosis was traumatizing at first and most definitely rocked our world as we navigated our “new normal” and the nuances that come with this disease. We found strength in resilience, education, but most of all community.

I was shocked to learn of the other type 1s that were already in my life. If you know one, you know the multitude of daily struggles the disease poses. You also know the amazing resilience of those people who walk around with medical devices and probably a pack of Starbursts (my personal favorite) hiding in their pockets to treat their lows.

After about two and half years of living with the disease, I came to a place where I was ready to connect. I wanted to try to help others that struggled the same way I did and still do today. It was at this point that a dear friend in the diabetes community introduced me to Camp Seale Harris (CSH).

Camp Seale Harris is dedicated to educating, encouraging, and empowering children with diabetes and their families to live well.

No child is ever turned away from attending camp thanks to caring sponsors and individuals who generously donate to CSH. Hearing the feedback from these kids and knowing the positive way camp has impacted their lives is so moving for me. Diabetes can feel incredibly isolating at times. I still experience this as an adult, so I’m extra concerned about the kids that face this diagnosis.

Knowing that my words of encouragement and ability to empathize might provide comfort to a child or parent of a type 1, make my own personal struggle all worth it.

March 13th is the local Pensacola fundraising walk for Camp Seale Harris at Bayview Park. This year I’m working to raise enough funds to cover the cost for at least one camper.

Please join me in making a difference in a type 1’s life. A donation of any amount can truly change their quality of diabetes management and give them the chance to turn their struggle into a connection and support system they’ll have for a lifetime.

 

 

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Eleanor was born and raised in Pensacola, and is a 2010 graduate of Florida State University. After college, she spent two years in Atlanta, where she met her husband Matthew, followed by seven years in the nation’s capital. It was there that Eleanor found her stride in the advertising and media industry. In 2018, after receiving the okay to work remotely for her company of seven years, Eleanor and Matthew said goodbye to frigid winters and relocated to the warmth of Pensacola. In 2020 they welcomed their daughter, Grace (10 months) and in August they’ll welcome a son. When she’s not hustling between her full-time job and keeping up with baby Grace and fur baby, Goose, she can be found enjoying the water, taking family strolls, learning to garden, exploring new recipes, and daydreaming about home improvement projects. Eleanor is passionate about the health and wellness of her family and friends and is dedicated to being a positive influence on those around her. She believes wholeheartedly that community is key to a fulfilled life and feels blessed to be apart of this wonderful place we have the privilege of calling home.

1 COMMENT

  1. Eleanor Grace,
    What a well written and heartfelt posting you sent! I’m proud to call you my “disbudding” now and for many years to come. You and I will always try to be there for each other with many of the struggles and triumphs of living with T1D. I’m proud of you commitment to CAMP SEALE HARRIS, a camp that I attended starting in 1958 when I was 7 years old. I credit my loving parents and CAMP SEALE HARRIS for giving me the tools to have recently had my 63 “dianniversary”! Tip McAlpin

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