When my daughter Riley was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D), I was heartbroken. Receiving the news that your child has an incurable disease is something you never expect. I immediately began worrying about how we as parents could keep her life as “normal” as possible and not limit her while keeping her safe at that same time. Thankfully, we had GHS Children’s Hospital to provide us with the best doctors, training, care and support we could have imagined. Once we left the hospital, that love and support stayed with us as we met new battles through our journey with T1D.
Our first summer proved to be the most difficult. While all Riley’s friends were going to summer camps and play dates and taking classes, she often could not participate due to her disease. It seemed that no one was willing to “take on” her care.
Three years ago, all of that changed with Camp Buddy. Not only was Riley welcomed, she was surrounded by knowledgeable staff and caregivers as well as other children with T1D. She was in a place where she could have fun without fear, and I could comfortably leave her and know that she was in good hands.
The friends she has met through Camp Buddy are the ones that I know she will keep for life. They understand each other on a level that no one else can, and their support and love for one another is palpable. Camp Buddy and other GHS camps are so important, because without these camps, some children may never get to experience camp or have the opportunity to meet other children that are fighting the same battles they are. But don’t take a mom’s word for it. Let Riley tell you herself:
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 4 years old. Since then, I have had to learn to live each day poking my finger for blood, giving myself shots, wearing medical devices and doing really hard math so that I can stay alive and healthy. Most days T1D tries to get in the way of me doing the things I love, but I have learned how to deal with it and keep going, even when I feel bad. Some days having diabetes makes me really frustrated and even sad, but I am glad that I have gotten to do so many amazing things and make such great friends because of T1D.
Learning to live and do the things I love is hard, but people like my parents, Dr. Apperson, Dr. Nelson and my friends from Camp Buddy are always there to help and support me. I am so glad that I have Camp Buddy to go to each year where I can just be a kid and not worry, because everyone there has to do the same things I am doing. I am not singled out for my needs.
My favorite thing about Children’s Hospital and Camp Buddy is all the amazing people. Some people are not as lucky as I am to have a community of people that is always there and works so hard to support them!
Camp Buddy is one of several camps offered to GHS Children’s Hospital patients free of charge. The funding for Camp Buddy and other camps is largely generated through Radiothon, which will take place August 9 and 10. Learn more information about Radiothon here.
This blog post written by Courtney Fincher-Foster and her daughter, Riley Fincher-Foster.