Diabetes Awareness Essay

 Its certainly possible for diabetic kids to be great athletes, but they walk a tightrope (Bekx) Some of the best athletes not only have a battle on the field while playing their sport, but they also fight the battle to closely monitor their bodies because of their diabetes. Ron Santo and Jay Cutler are both professional athletes who have excelled in their respective sports while managing diabetes. To be successful, these athletes follow strict exercise regimens and diets to properly manage their disease while training for their careers.

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It is certainly a challenge for these athletes, but their success serves as an inspiration to many young aspiring athletes who also live with diabetes.

Jay Cutler, a former football quarterback, is one well known athlete who continued to be successful despite being diagnosed with diabetes at the age of twenty-five. Cutler decided to see a doctor because he was experiencing significant unexplained weight loss and feelings of fatigue (Bergstein). When test results returned, Cutler was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. The extraordinary quarterback was determined not to let his diabetes diagnosis end his career.

The first step to managing his disease was to monitor his blood sugar levels. Secondly, he changed his diet by replacing carbohydrates with foods such as healthy proteins, fats and vegetables (Bergstein). He also began an exercise program that included aerobic exercises for at least 30 minutes a day for five days week to improve they way his body used insulin. Cutler continued to find success in his football career and was even named player of the month and top passer in the American Football Conference during his 2008 season (Bergstein). You can live with diabetes and still live the way you want says Cutler who is an inspiring example for young diabetic athletes to pursue their sports dreams.
Ron Santo is another legendary athlete diagnosed with diabetes during his sporting career. Ron Santo played major league baseball for the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox during the 1960s.

Santo was diagnosed in 1959 at the age of eighteen when his mother sent him for a doctors checkup before he left home for baseball training camp. Upon diagnosis, his main concerns was that this disease might hinder his God-given gifts (Santo) for playing baseball. Santo hoped that he would be able to manage his diabetes with simple diet and exercise. He monitored his blood sugar and kept foods high in sugar in the dugout during games to eat in case his blood sugar dropped significantly. He successfully did just that for the first year after his diagnosis. He played in the minor leagues and had an exceptional first season with 11 home runs and a batting average of a .327 (Santo). In 1960, his pancreas function decreased which required him to being taking insulin injections.

Initially, he kept his struggle with diabetes a secret from his teammates and coaches. He did not want to be treated differently than the other players, but at the same time he realized that no one would know how to help him if he had life threatening complications due to his diabetes. He decided to tell the teammate whom he roomed for out of town games. Eventually he shared his story with his entire team and the public about his disease. He inspired many as he empowered people of all ages to pursue the lifestyle they wanted for themselves. Santo remind[ed] people that theres no reason the disease should prevent them from utilizing their own God-given gifts (Santo).

He became a board member of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation as a way of giving back to the community that had supported him so extensively.
Young athletes who walk a diabetic tightrope can find their path easier when they follow the advice and example of diabetic athletes who have already paved the way to success.

The first step to success is continual monitoring of blood sugar levels. The second step is a diet filled with healthy proteins, fats, and vegetables coupled with an aerobic exercise program. And finally and maybe most importantly, young athletes need the support and encouragement of their families, friends, and communities to reach their highest level of success in any sport they wish to pursue.  

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