Welcome to the 2018 JDRF One Walk Team Spotlights, a series dedicated to celebrating the most important part of JDRF One Walk – YOU! You can still register for the upcoming Northeast PA Walk and start your fundraising now! All your hard work culminates in a day of fun at the Stroudsburg High School on Sunday, April 29.
Meet role-model-extraordinaire Mike Evangelis of BUILTBYMIKE, a team with JDRF One Walk Northeast PA. Mike was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at age 16, and he hasn’t let diabetes stop him from achieving his goals as a bodybuilder and trainer.
Tell us about your life with T1D.
Growing up with T1D, at times, was a roller coaster. Some days I felt great and my blood sugar was in range, and other days it seemed like no matter what I did or didn’t do, I just couldn’t keep my blood sugar stable. Growing up, I often felt isolated – people would look at me differently when I would test my sugar or take insulin, and wearing an insulin pump or continuous glucose monitor (CGM) often gets looks of confusion or questions from people that don’t understand T1D. Unfortunately, people confuse type 1 and type 2. You will hear misconceptions, like we developed T1D through consuming too much sugar or lack or exercise, which is totally false. T1D is an autoimmune disease where your body attacks itself and shuts down insulin producing beta cells, which requires insulin therapy to stay alive.
When I was first diagnosed, I was under the impression I was not going to be able to live a normal life. My doctors made it seem like I could not exercise or play sports. I was determined to not let diabetes stop me from achieving my goals. After my diagnosis, I started working out and became fascinated with training and nutrition – not only to help my “illness” but also to help me with sports. I remember my coaches were afraid to play me in sports because of my diagnosis. My mom and I brought doctors in to educate the staff and coaches at my school so I could play. Over 15 years later, I have found my passion of training and nutrition and helping others with T1D.
I truly look at my diagnosis as a blessing because if it was not for this, I don’t know if I would have found my true purpose of helping others.
Why did you decide to get involved with JDRF?
I got involved with JDRF because, after my diagnosis, I did not have a positive role model that I could look up to that could show me it was possible to achieve a healthy life with T1D. Every story I heard after my diagnosis was negative – what I could not do, how bad my life would be, how someone’s relative died of diabetes. Thankfully, I decided I wasn’t going to let this be my life. I became involved in JDRF because I wanted to show others what is possible and help mentor them to life a healthy lifestyle and achieve everything they want to achieve!
What are your fundraising strategies?
I have been raising money for JDRF through social media (Instagram, Facebook) and by word of mouth. It is a very powerful strategy for fundraising when people see and hear your story. You are a very powerful tool, so by using your story, you will have the ability to help raise money and awareness for JDRF!
What would you tell someone with T1D or a newly diagnosed family about JDRF?
I would tell someone who was newly diagnosed with T1D that anything is possible as a T1D, regardless of what you are told. You can achieve everything that someone without T1D can achieve; it just takes a little bit more caution and planning! I also think the key to having success as a diabetic is having a great support system, which includes diabetic friends that you can relate to, a great family support system, and endocrinologist. It took me a long time to find a great doctor and friends with type 1, but I finally have and I’ve never been happier. It’s also very important to having a great workout regimen and nutrition plan to optimize blood sugar levels. Devices like the Dexcom CGM and JDRF fundraising events make the future with T1D so bright.
Stay tuned to the JDRF Eastern PA blog for more One Walk Team spotlights!
Have you registered for One Walk Northeast PA yet? Visit walk.jdrf.org/northeastpa to start or join a team! For more information about the JDRF One Walk program, or to find a Walk location near you, please visit walk.jdrf.org.