McKesson’s Build a Buddy Program Helps Kids With Diabetes Feel Less Alone

For children newly diagnosed with diabetes, the world can suddenly seem a rather solitary place.

Kids now have to know the amount of carbohydrates in everything they eat and how much insulin they have to take based on those carbohydrates. Blood glucose monitoring is standard operating procedure, and however foreign, insulin has become a constant companion.

To make the transition easier, many kids learn to manage their disease at diabetes camps where they can spend time with others who also have diabetes, including camp counselors who can share learned insights as well as tips to alleviate children’s fears.

For newly diagnosed children, Camp is often their first time away from home since being diagnosed. That’s why McKesson launched its Build a Buddy program, which provides hand-crafted stuffed companions to share the camp experience with the kids who attend.

Now in its fourth year, the program has resulted in the creation of more than 3,000 unique stuffed animals–1,000 a year–half of which are donated to American Diabetes Association (ADA) camps. The other half are taken home by pharmacists to be used as an educational tool to help kids learn more about their newly-diagnosed disease in a friendly, non-threatening way.

The Buddies are created as part of the annual McKesson ideaShare conference and trade show, which brings together thousands of community pharmacy representatives and their families to help create better pharmacy health. During the event, attendees meet with dozens of pharmaceutical and diabetes manufacturers to learn about the latest products and services. As an opportunity for families to get more involved, the program was introduced to help kids without diabetes develop a sense of altruism, compassion, and understanding as they make a Buddy that will end up comforting another child.

The workshops are held as special sessions at the trade show, and include all the materials participants need to create a Buddy, dress it as they choose, then add accessories and other personal touches, including a name for the new friend that’s included on its birth certificate.

“It’s a family affair, and something people look forward to every year, especially knowing they’ll be given to a child with diabetes,” said Laurie Jamieson, director, diabetes programs and services at McKesson, adding that the stuffed Buddies arrive at camp with a backpack, different outfits and accessories, as well as the birth certificate and a note from the families that created the Buddy.

“Every Buddy is unique,” she said, “so that people who come back to ideaShare year after year can create something different each time.”

The Buddies are sent directly from the event to the ADA camps, where kids are welcomed by their Buddy as soon as they arrive.

For McKesson, the program provides an opportunity to create a sense of community among the company, its manufacturers and customers while doing something special to help guide kids through their earliest days with diabetes.

About McKesson Corporation

McKesson Corporation, currently ranked 14th on the FORTUNE 500, is a healthcare services and information technology company dedicated to making the business of healthcare run better. McKesson partners with payers, hospitals, physician offices, pharmacies, pharmaceutical companies and others across the spectrum of care to build healthier organizations that deliver better care to patients in every setting. McKesson helps its customers improve their financial, operational, and clinical performance with solutions that include pharmaceutical and medical-surgical supply management, healthcare information technology, and business and clinical services. For more information, visit



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