Why I Walk Spotlight: The Williams Family

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Joe and Nissa Williams of Maryville have been supporters of JDRF for quite a while. Nissa has volunteered with JDRF East Tennessee for the last 5+ years, serving on the Board of Directors because of her company’s relationship with JDRF, although she had no personal connection to type 1 diabetes (T1D). Last year, during a transition with the chapter, she even stepped up to serve as board president.

Because of her involvement with JDRF, Nissa knew about the warning signs of T1D. So last month, while she’s been seeing her daughter more while working from home, she noticed that Ava (age 8) was experiencing increased thirst and frequent urination. Although the pediatrician thought she was being overly cautious, and she was hesitant to go to the doctor because of the potential exposure to COVID-19, she made the decision to go. She was grateful she did, as Ava was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on April 8th.

While Ava’s blood sugar was very high at 600, because they didn’t wait any longer to visit the doctor she was not in DKA (a life-threatening condition that can develop when your body isn’t producing enough insulin) and they did not have to stay overnight in the hospital. Regardless of the circumstances, a T1D diagnosis is always a frightening time for a family, but Nissa is grateful she knew what warning signs to look out for, and where to turn for support. “No one can ever explain to you how scary it is literally having your child’s life held in your hands,” says Nissa. “Thank goodness for the support of our doctors, our family and friends, the JDRF East Tennessee Board of Directors, and the type 1 community, who have lessened that burden and kept us from feeling alone in this.”

Since then, they have formed a family Walk team – Ava’s Avengers – for the Virtual JDRF One Walk in East Tennessee on June 6th, and their team has already raised over $1,500!  Their reason for participating is simple: “I don’t like type 1 diabetes and I want to find a cure”, says Ava. Their family has been so grateful for the support of the JDRF and the T1D community during this challenging transition. We are grateful for the Williams family’s commitment to helping turn Type One into Type None!