Six years ago, Julie DeFruscio’s two-year-old daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Two years later, her 13-year-old son was also diagnosed with type 1. And four months after that, her ten-year-old son diagnosed himself with diabetes – unfortunately, he was right.
By that time, Julie was an old hand at handling her children’s diabetes. But she remembers being overwhelmed with anxiety when her first child was diagnosed. She was up against a chronic disease that requires intensive management. Determined to protect her children from complications, she devoured any scrap of information she could find.
After exploring every avenue, Julie and her husband Mark decided on the insulin pump because it gave her children the best chance for better blood sugars and a healthy future. And when she couldn’t find a child-friendly way for kids to wear their pumps, Julie and her best friend Dawn started Pump Wear, a business geared to fill the gap. It’s become a great success.
That’s Julie’s style. If she sees a need, she goes about filling it. And one particularly poignant need she recognized is the need for families of diabetic children to have fun times together, in spite of everything. Diabetes wears out the whole family, and it’s expensive, so vacations become even more important and even less accessible.
With three children having type 1, Julie says ruefully, the only vacations that her family could pull off were at the “Children with Diabetes” conferences. But she realized that there are families out there who can’t afford to go to a conference, let alone a family camp.
So with characteristic verve and tenacity, Julie and Dawn tackled the idea of a free camp for those families who so badly need a break. It took them two years to find the right place, but they succeeded in putting together a diabetes camp weekend with the Double H Ranch. The Ranch, founded by Paul Newman and Charles R. Wood, provides memorable, empowering, fun, physically safe, and medically sound experiences to children and families dealing with life-threatening illnesses.
In order to give tired families without a lot of money the chance for a safe and enjoyable weekend away from it all, Pump Wear is sponsoring three days and two nights in the Double H Ranch’s magical Adirondack setting for fifteen to twenty families. There’s no cost to the families; all each family must do is provide its own transportation. For more information on what Julie hopes will become an annual event, go to www.pumpwearinc.com.
If you would like to nominate a family for the weekend, which will run from April 25th through 27th, 2008, please email Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org. Julie is also seeking corporate sponsors for a vendor day that will introduce the camping families to the many new products available to manage diabetes. It should be a great opportunity for both the vendors and the families.