Letter of the Week: Phoenix Lawyer with Diabetes Takes Pro Bono Cases to Help the Phoenix Diabetes Community


By: Gary D. Ansel

Dear Editor,

Sometimes the personal challenges we confront lead us to recognize value and opportunities we had not discovered before.  That has been my recent experience, and that’s why I am especially proud to be a member of the Phoenix legal community.

In the fall of 2005, I was diagnosed as a type 1.  At first I thought that my new gym membership was responsible for my weight loss of six pounds a week, my calf cramps at night, and my excessive thirst.  Instead, my pancreas had retired.  I had the kind of diabetes that children get, except mine showed up when I was forty-four.

At first I was scared and full of self-pity. But if little kids can do it, I knew that I could.  After all, it’s a lot harder for a child to resist cake and ice cream at a birthday party than it is for me, at least in theory.

Over the last two years, every time I felt fed up with giving myself four shots of insulin a day or sticking my fingers to test my sugar, those anonymous little kids helped me to pick myself up.  Recently, one of those kids became less anonymous.

I was asked to take on a pro bono case involving an eight-year-old girl whose public school refused to let her test her sugar more than once a day and would not give her insulin injections.

Her father kept her home from school for safety reasons while he tried to work with the school or get his daughter into a different school.  He was charged with criminal truancy.

I got in touch with the American Diabetes Association and learned that there’s a network of more than 500 attorneys nationwide that volunteer for cases like this.  I learned that Phil Higdon of Perkins Coie in Phoenix was part of this group, the local ADA Leadership Council, and a member of the National Board of Directors.  Knowing that the case we had in Phoenix was one of many across the country, I was honored when the ADA and Phil asked me to help.

Phil came up with the idea of creating a local Arizona diabetes legal advocacy group, the first in the country, and our Phoenix legal community willingly joined.   So on Law Day, I am proud to be a lawyer, proud to be a part of the Phoenix legal community and proud of those who volunteered: Bob Schaffer of Lewis & Roca, Cynthia Ricketts of DLA Piper, Dan Goldfine of Snell & Wilmer,  Peri Jude Radecic of Arizona Center for Disability Law, Paul Julien of the Arizona Supreme Court, Chuck Blanchard of Perkins Coie, and David Rosenbaum of Osborn Maledon.

Gary D. Ansel
Shughart Thomson & Kilroy
Chair, Arizona Legal Advocacy Committee



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