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 (www.jdrf.org). 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 (www.childrenwithdiabetes.com). 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 – www.juvenation.org. 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

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