Shari’s son, Andrew, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) when he was still in diapers at 22 months old. Shari recalled, “It was alarming. His diapers would constantly blowout.” When being treated for an ear infection, Shari mentioned this to the doctor and, per her mom’s request, asked that Andrew be checked for diabetes. Shari felt overwhelmed when the doctor confirmed Andrew had T1D and informed her she and Andrew needed to go to Royal Oak Beaumont immediately, and that they would be admitted for multiple days.
“Parents are so focused on taking care of their children, they don’t consider they may need some help too,” Shari said. After raising a toddler with T1D, being an active JDRF volunteer and amid a job change, Shari refocused her efforts on launching the Northern Oakland County JDRF Networking Coffee Group. From Pontiac to Lake Orion to Rochester Hills, the group meets on the first Thursday of every month at the Grand Traverse Pie Company.
Alternating between morning and evening meetings, group sessions allow for the kids involved to play games together while the adults talk about challenges, including those pertaining to school and general behavior, how to spread awareness about T1D and various volunteer opportunities within JDRF’s network. Said Shari, “That’s the best part about getting involved with JDRF – the non-judgmental support and the lifelong friendships you develop.”
“It’s so amazing to sit and talk with people who speak my language. I feel kindred. I feel amazingly supported,” said Shari.
Since his diagnosis, Andrew has been on a mission to help spread awareness, like his mom, about T1D. Andrew has previously served on JDRF’s Children’s Congress and has also volunteered with the JDRF Promise Ball. In his free time, when he’s not advocating T1D awareness, he enjoys anything outdoors, especially football and golf.
This year, the Navettas will be helping to turn Type One into Type None at their third JDRF One Walk in East Lansing as Team Cousin Club. Said Shari, “It’s wonderful to have Andrew see the community of people that support diabetes research. We believe he will see a cure in his lifetime and walking with everyone sparks his hope again each year.” The parent/caregiver support system is also active on the closed Facebook page: Northern Oakland County JDRF Coffee Group, which provides an added resource for those affected by T1D in Northern Oakland County.
As the group seeks to expand its geographic footprint in Northern Oakland County, it welcomes new members with open arms. If you are from Northern Oakland County and are interested in joining the Northern Oakland County JDRF Networking Coffee Group and/or the group’s closed Facebook page, contact Shari Navetta at firstname.lastname@example.org.