Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Tale of Three Zach's, or Zak or Zack

One of my volunteer activities with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) is volunteering as a cyber-volunteer with the Online Diabetes Support Team (ODST). Members of the ODST answer questions posed by people via the JDRF website ( The questions range from detailed questions about diabetes and school to general about how to cope with a newly diagnosed child.

When my youngest son, Kyle, was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at the age of 18 months old, our world was rocked. There wasn’t an ODST to turn to or an organized outreach effort. Besides JDRF, one of the places I turned to was a website tailored to parents of kids with Type I ( One of the features of this site (CwD) is an e-mail group of parents. These e-mails deal with support, gripes, fundraisers, etc. I really don’t get too involved by posting to the group, but I read the e-mails that come across.

Now that you have that background, here is the story. I received an ODST request from a newly diagnosed family in South Africa wondering about online support groups. Since JDRF doesn’t have a chapter in South Africa, I referred the father (Zack - #1) to JDRF’s social networking site – About a week later, I was reading the CwD e-mails and someone indicated that they couldn’t make a fundraiser due to the distance. As I looked at their sign-off, I first noticed they had a son named Zak (#2) and that they were in South Africa. They also were “experienced” Type I parents meaning that their loved one was diagnosed a few years ago. The light bulb went off immediately. I asked them if they would mind if I shared their contact information with the newly diagnosed family. Of course, they said “no problem”; so I did share the contact information. About a week later, I got an e-mail from the newly diagnosed family indicating that contact was made and they were even able to meet at the doctor’s office.

Hard to believe that this Zach (#3), sitting in Kingston Springs, TN could hook up two people in South Africa.

Zach, A Tennessee Squire