For our Founders, the HADC purpose is a personal one
In 2000, Tami & Joe Balavage retired and moved their family from Pennsylvania to Naples, Florida to raise and spend as much time as possible with their 2 children, 7-year-old Kristi and 5-year-old Michael.
Michael was experiencing some of the typical symptoms associated with T1D such as excessive thirst, fatigue, unexplained loss of weight, frequent urination, stomach pain and on December 22, 2010 at the age of 16 he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
With such a delayed diagnosis, the diabetes had taken a toll on his body. He spent the next 3 days in the hospital being stabilized as Tami and Joe learned just how invasive and relentless this disease would be for the rest of their son’s life.
Michael was able to return home on Christmas eve, but everything was changing. New family patterns had to be established; measuring foods, counting carbs, constant finger sticks, constant insulin injections, sleepless nights, worrisome days. But, Michael embraced this challenge and to this day manages the best he can with the tools he has available.
Turning unfortunate circumstances into an opportunity to give.
As a catalyst of joining the diabetes community after Michael’s diagnosis, Tami and Joe learned of children who were unable to afford glucose testing supplies, insulin, doctor visits, and mental health services; all of which are required to take care of diabetes minute-to-minute each and every day, for life. Tami and Joe couldn’t stand idly by while more children with diabetes suffered simply because they couldn’t afford treatment.
It was then, in 2013, that Tami and Joe founded Help A Diabetic Child (HADC) with the mission to become a safety net for children and young adults experiencing financial difficulties and unable to get the medical supplies, insulin and services that are necessary for managing and surviving diabetes. The safety net of HADC is to give families time needed (one to three months) to find the necessary insurance, gain employment, and sign up for patient assistance programs.
Along the way Tami and Joe’s dedication gained the attention of doctors, business owners and researchers leading to the formation of a prestigious Board of Directors comprised of internationally recognized experts in Type 1 Diabetes research and management as well as world class business leaders who have a vested interest in seeing that no child on our watch goes without the help they need.
Creating impact while we wait for a cure.
To date, HADC has purchased hundreds of thousands of glucose test strips, lancets, meters, syringes, pen needles, and other diabetes supplies along with tens of thousands of units of insulin and glucagon pens for children and young adults. Though HADC’s impact is substantial, the number of children in need is greater.
The number of Americans being diagnosed with diabetes continues to rise at alarming rates. The American Diabetes Association reports that almost 10% of the US population has diabetes while another 8 million are undiagnosed. In addition, the ADA reports that 86 million Americans over the age of 20 years have pre-diabetes. Our aim is to continue to do all that we can to do our part in helping those children who, through no fault of their own, are left behind.
The journey has been long, but it’s not over yet. Help A Diabetic Child remains hopeful that one day Type 1 Diabetes will be a distant memory and no child will suffer the rigors of this unforgiving and unwanted disease.