I was sitting in the library, flipping through my Instagram feed, when I realized it was #ThrowbackThursday. As an Instagram fiend, I immediately started pondering over the picture I would dig up from the past and post on this fine Thursday morning in November. The solution came to me quite quickly: not only was it #tbt, but November 14, 2013 was also World Diabetes Day…how convenient! I would post a picture that not only worked for #tbt, but could also show my support of diabetes awareness! Now, what picture to choose….
As I flipped through the photos on my phone and on my Facebook, searching for the perfect diabetes image, I smiled at all of the people I recognized in the pictures. I stumbled upon a picture of my field hockey team at the 2010 Walk to Cure Diabetes, which my family and I had participated in since we moved to Mass in ‘96. They had painted my initials in a red heart on their cheeks, and one of my friends was even wearing a shirt she made that read “I love DP” on the front. I saw a picture of my coach, bundled up in layers of sweatshirts and coats because it was freezing out, but she had a giant smile on her face, happy to be at the walk for me and my family. I found pictures of classmates, neighbors, friends of my parents, teachers, and even just people from my town, all walking around Worcester for me, laughing and smiling. These pictures spanned a number of years: from the beginning when the team was still called Danielle’s Dream Team, to the end when we had expanded to the all-inclusive Team Westboro. I remembered all the people who would send donation checks to us in the mail: I will never forget my friend Kasey, who walked around her neighborhood, going door-to-door asking for donations for my walk team, or the check that came with a handwritten letter from the parent of a girl I played soccer with for a year. I was never close with this girl, but her father remembered me and our walk team, and took the time to write me a very personal and touching note.
I remembered seeing my Mom bent over the kitchen table, stuffing envelopes with walk letters and spending hours addressing them to friends, family, and local businesses weeks before the walk. I remember my Dad loading up the car on Walk Day with our table decorations, Danielle’s Dream Team or Team Westboro shirts, and a pumpkin or some mums to make our table festive, and my sister hopping in the car next to me on those early Sunday mornings, happy to be traveling half an hour into Worcester to walk a three mile loop for her big sis. I remembered all the hugs, the smiles, the faces, and the laughs of everyone who showed up to support me in my fight against diabetes for all those years, and when I say everyone, trust me, I really do mean everyone.
What may seem like a small act of kindness to some of you has meant the world to me. I like to think that I’m a decent writer, and that I’ve gotten pretty good at expressing my feelings and opinions through language, but this is the one part of my life that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fully express to anyone else. I remember all of the people from my community and my life who came to the walks, whether they were regular attendees or new-timers. I also remember how I felt at the end every single Walk day, without fail, when I slipped back into our car to go back home. I wondered if the novelty would wear off once I grew up, but instead, it only seemed to intensify with each new walk. I am always amazed at how many people care enough about me to give up their Sundays, drive all the way into Worcester, and walk around for 3 miles—usually in the cold!—to show that they care about me. I am amazed to see not just my family and friends, but people I didn’t even know all that well show up at our registration table, excited to start walking for me. I am awed at the amount of work my mother put in every single year to raise money and awareness for our team, all for me. This is without a doubt the most humbling and awe-inspiring feeling I’ve had, and I am lucky enough to have experienced it for years after another successful Walk to Cure Diabetes. Feeling that loved, that valuable, and incredibly fortunate that one special day of the year made the other 364 days with diabetes seem worth the struggle.
So I found some pictures for my Instagram post, and I attempted to write a nice little blurb underneath the photo without getting too sappy on everyone’s feeds, but my Instagram picture made me realize that I needed to write a full-length, heartfelt thank you letter to all the people who have supported me and my journey with Type 1 diabetes for my whole life. Thank you to all who have walked, who have donated, and who have smiled through the cold and the rain for our walk team group photos. Thank you to all who have asked me about my diabetes, who have expressed their concern and care, and who have helped me through the times when having diabetes got hard. Thank you for your love, your compassion, and your hearts of gold. I hope this post can give you some idea of how grateful I am for all who have been there for me for such a long time…none of you will truly ever know how much I appreciate all you’ve done for me. From the very bottom of my heart, thank you.
A few photos of my incredible Walk crew: