Boy Scouts and Diabetes

By Clay Cavanaugh

Three years ago, my little brother Eli was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 10. That day, I remember coming home from school wondering where my family was. A little later, I got a call from my mom; it sounded as if she were ready to cry. She told me that she and my dad were at the hospital with Eli and they wouldn’t be home for a while. That was all she said.

That night, I had Boy Scouts. I remember showing up to the meeting feeling tense and being worried about Eli. I kept checking my phone hoping there would be an update, but there was nothing, and this worried me even further. One of the adults in the troop must have noticed my stress and he pulled me aside. He asked me what was going on and I explained emotionally. What he said really comforted me, and it turned out to be true. He told me that whatever was going on with Eli, the doctors and nurses knew what they were doing and that they had a handle on it and he ensured me that my brother would be okay. I went home after that talk feeling better.

At around ten that night, the garage door finally opened. When they came through the door, my mom and dad look tired, but my brother looked the most fatigued. They joined me on the couch and explained to me that Eli now had type 1 diabetes, and that they had an appointment early the next morning at the Barbara Davis Center. The next day, my parents seemed relieved and my brother was back to his old self. They said that they were impressed with the Barbara Davis Center and that they really helped in understanding Eli’s new medical needs.  

I have been in Boy Scouts since I was 7. It has been a great journey and I have learned a lot. Sadly, I am peaking my years of being a kid and I am getting closer each day to becoming an adult. Because scouting has been a big part of my life, I wanted to make my Eagle Project something that had a lot of meaning and helped a lot of people. I ended up making 30 low blood sugar kits for the Barbara Davis Center. The kits were to be given to newly diagnosed patients. I was very proud of the project and happy with the fact that I was going to give back and help an organization that had done so much for my family.

It took months to organize everything and gather all the supplies, but all the time and effort was well worth it. The kits ended up filling two big plastic bins and I raised $700 in donations from family and friends to make it happen.

Each kit is designed to be a useful tool in helping newly diagnosed patient take care of their blood sugar. Each kit contained:

  • A Dopp Kit Bag- My family uses these bags and they are great for storing things long term or using on the go.
  • Alcohol Pads- These are convenient to use for sanitizing fingertips before testing.
  • Pen and a Note Pad- Great for recording carbs, numbers, anything you need to remember.
  • Juice Boxes, Skittles, and Crackers- All store-bought necessities in tending to low blood sugar.
  • A brochure telling our story- I felt that our story would give hope to newly diagnosed patients and their families.

It’s hard to believe that my brother was diagnosed three years ago. Today, my brother plays lacrosse and has an active lifestyle. He doesn’t let diabetes get in the way. With diabetes, he has been able to do everything he did before his diagnosis. He has sleepovers on a regular basis. Although last time we went I broke my wrist, we do a lot of snowboarding, and he also participates in Boy Scouts with my dad and I. Last summer, the three of us went to a Boy Scout camp with our troop up at Mount Rushmore. Diabetes didn’t slow my brother down one bit and he has continued to live a happy life while dealing with diabetes.

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