JDRF Greater Western Carolinas would like to highlight our Superhero Supporter for the month of March, Carl Armato. Carl Armato is the President and CEO of Novant Health and has been living with type 1 diabetes himself for over 50 years. Novant Health is the presenting sponsor for our One Walk events this year and has led Carl Armato to be heavily involved with JDRF. Recently, Carl opened up his day-to-day life as a CEO with type 1 diabetes to the public on our JDRF Greater Western Carolinas channels. This showed and enlightened our T1D community that he faces the same challenges as everyone else with type 1, all while managing being a successful CEO.
We asked Carl Armato a little bit more about why he is involved and supports JDRF as strongly as he does. Get to know him more through our mini interview below:
What is your T1D connection?
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was just 18 months old, so it’s all I’ve ever known. I was the youngest patient to have ever been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in our rural area of Louisiana.
As I’m sure some parents reading this can attest, my initial diagnosis was hardest on my parents. They were unfamiliar with the disease and had to learn a lot – fast – to help me survive and thrive. Because of the lack of technology at the time, much of the day-to-day management of the disease was based on small clues the body offered and good instinct.
It has been quite the journey since those days, but if there’s one thing I have learned in my years living with type 1 diabetes, it is that nothing is impossible. With my mom’s focus on managing my health and diet, my dad’s emphasis on remaining active while understanding my body’s cues, and the watchful eye of my brothers, I built resilience and continued to drive myself to achieve success despite the disease.
Today, I am the CEO of Novant Health and proud to partner with JDRF as both a leader of a health care system and also a type 1 diabetic.
How long have you been involved with JDRF?
I have long been inspired by JDRF and have worked to partner with this remarkable organization at every opportunity.
In 2017, I had the privilege of being honored by the Triad JDRF and was able to share my 50-year journey with type 1 diabetes. After the event, a young girl came up to me with tears in her eyes saying that she hadn’t heard anyone be so positive about thriving with diabetes.
It was that moment that inspired me, with a little of urging by my family, to do more and share more. If my experiences might help someone have hope, then it is absolutely worth it. I also make sure to continue the dialogue in as many circles as possible so that through conversation, we may lift the fear about chronic conditions like type 1 diabetes and reveal everything that remains possible.
Why (and how) do you personally support JDRF?
Personally, I find great joy in being able to share my experience with people in the type 1 diabetes community.
I have participated in important summits, which bring the community together to learn and share and support. I am also beyond excited to chair the Spring JDRF One Walk events in Charlotte on April 6 at Carowinds and on May 11 in Davidson, North Carolina. These are fantastic events that not only help raise critical funding, but bring the community together on, we hope, beautiful days for exercise and camaraderie.
In addition to my work with JDRF, we’ve done some great things at Novant Health to support the diabetes community. Since 2016, we have provided full coverage for diabetes medications and supplies like insulin pumps and testing supplies for our diabetic team members. They’re happier and healthier for it, which means they also have fewer missed days and are able to provide remarkable care to our patients.
Another program I am proud of was our “search and rescue” initiative meant to identify more patients living with diabetes who may not know they have the disease. In all, we uncovered more than 6,000 undiagnosed cases of diabetes. Many of those were type 2 diabetes sufferers, but no one can deny that there are more than 30 million Americans living with the condition, not to mention those who are undiagnosed. It is truly an epidemic. In all, Novant Health serves more than 90,000 people with diabetes today. We are all in this together.
What inspires you about JDRF’s work?
We cannot underestimate the importance of a strong foundation in managing type 1 diabetes. JDRF is part of this foundation.
I was diagnosed back in the day when JDRF did not exist. I wish my parents and I had that opportunity to have a family of people, a community, that we could learn from and lean on.
I’m also inspired by the advancements in research and technology that have produced better options for managing type 1 diabetes. JDRF has been at the forefront of so many of these. These innovations are helping us to live healthier lives each day, and for that I am grateful.
What message would you give to others who are thinking about supporting JDRF’s mission?
I absolutely encourage everyone to support JDRF and its mission to cure type 1 diabetes. This support will make a true difference for an organization, which is currently funding 70 active clinical trials and has committed over $2 billion in research funding since 1970.
This support not only gives hope, but it helps provide important resources for those managing type 1 diabetes. So whether you are living with type 1 diabetes, loving someone with type 1 diabetes OR supporting this important cause, continue to be engaged because you are contributing directly to the health and success of the JDRF community.
Thank you so very much to Carl Armato! We are so humbled and thankful to be able to partner with such an inspiring leader and organization for our One Walks this year. We have learned so much from you and are glad we can share your wisdom and strength with our T1D Community.
-Your Greater Western Carolinas Chapter