TypeOneNation: Meet & Greet the Panelists

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We are counting down the days to our TypeOneNation Summit Meet & Greet!

We have invited the Utah type 1 diabetes (T1D) community to join us on the evening of November 16 at the Sandy SCHEELS for a free educational opportunity to learn more about who JDRF is and how we serve the greater T1D community. No matter where you find yourself on your T1D journey, we hope you will come out and take advantage of a chance to hear that you are not alone in a life with T1D.

Guests will have a chance to meet with pharma partners and partner organizations that work with JDRF to support the everyday lives of those with T1D. Volunteers will also be in attendance to speak about the various programs JDRF offers the T1D community.

Our evening will also include a scavenger hunt, sponsored by our host, SCHEELS. Adventure around SCHEELS to find Rufus the Bear with Diabetes® for a chance to win our grand prize: a $100 gift card to SCHEELS!

Our programming will feature a Q&A panel with guests who are excited to speak to their firsthand experiences of life with T1D and how JDRF has impacted their lives, as well as the lives of those around them.

So who exactly will be on our panel?

Merissa Davis, Moderator

Merissa Davis is a wildlife biologist by trade and has been working in environmental consulting for over 20 years, spending the last 12 at Bowen Collins & Associates. Merissa’s son Otto was diagnosed with T1D at the age of 2 and diabetes quickly took over the lives of the Davis family. Merissa enjoys volunteering her time with JDRF because this organization has allowed her to step back from the day-to-day grind and instead focus on the bigger picture of what they can do to improve the everyday lives of everyone with T1D. Merissa leads a top One Walk Utah team, Otto Immune; serves as an Outreach Volunteer for the T1D Connections Program; and is the Utah Community Board President. Merissa is also the mastermind behind Piebetes, a family organization where she bakes and sells pies to raise money for JDRF year-round.

Merissa’s words of advice for those newly diagnosed with T1D? “Don’t let anyone tell you that this will just become normal. The day-to-day requirements of T1D are not normal, but they are manageable. JDRF and this community are here to help ease the burden we know this disease brings to all those living with it or caring for someone with it. Your T1D is not only going to be okay, but you will thrive with your devoted help and care.”

Elisa Anguiano

Elisa Anguiano is a Clinical Research Coordinator at the University of Utah in the Department of Pediatric Endocrinology. Elisa also works with TrialNet, a JDRF-funded program offering risk screening for relatives of people living with T1D. Elisa has a close friend with T1D, but she appreciates the countless relationships she has made with families affected by T1D through her work with TrialNet over the past four years. TrialNet is one of the largest and most accessible clinical trials available to Utah residents, and Elisa has become closely involved with JDRF because of the platform the organization offers, allowing her and her team to educate the community about why clinical research is an essential part of moving toward a future without T1D. She has seen firsthand how JDRF engages the T1D community.

Elisa’s words of advice for those newly diagnosed with T1D? “There is a whole community of people, organizations and researchers who are ready to rally behind them and fight with them, and who are working tirelessly to prevent and cure this disease. They are never alone in their fight with T1D.”

SaRene Brooks

SaRene Brooks is a Registered Dietitian (RD) and a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES). She works for Integrated Diabetes Services, an online company that provides diabetes self-management education for insulin users worldwide. SaRene’s first introduction to T1D was growing up in a home with a father with the disease. Since then, two of her three sons were diagnosed with T1D, both at the age of 16. This inspired her to pursue a career helping individuals and families work through the complexities of diabetes. She has seen sides of diabetes as a parent and now as a professional educator, and she believes education is the key to management. She finds her time spent volunteer with JDRF rewarding.

SaRene’s words of advice for those newly diagnosed with T1D? “Do not let diabetes dominate your life. Rather, learn how to make it a part of your life. You can be happy and still do all the things you love when you have diabetes.”

Christina Choate

Christina Choate is a Special Education teacher. She was diagnosed with T1D herself in 2003. Christina’s first introduction to JDRF was at the One Walk in Chicago back in the year she was diagnosed. Before participating in the largest event for the T1D community, the only other person she knew with T1D was her father. Over the past nearly 20 years, Christina has seen many sides of JDRF: as a staff member, Walker, Rider, Stewardship Ambassador, and currently, as a Mountain West Youth Ambassador Co-Chair. She is passionate about remaining involved because she believes in the power we hold to collectively find cures for T1D.

Christina’s words of advice for those newly diagnosed with T1D? “Welcome to the club. You can find solace, some good advice and even lifelong friendships in this community. We’re passionate about improving the lives of those with T1D and would love for you to join us in this mission!”

Cheryl Swenson

Cheryl Swenson is a manager of the business analysis team at a legal software company. Her son Alex was diagnosed with T1D in 2015 when he was only 15 months old. Cheryl and her family first got involved with JDRF at the One Walk Utah the year Alex was diagnosed. They haven’t stopped participating in this event because they love coming together to celebrate how her son, and the community, triumph over T1D every day. Fundraising every year allows Cheryl’s family and friends to feel connected to Alex and to know that they are making an active difference in his life. Since 2015, Cheryl has sought out additional volunteer opportunities, including currently as an Outreach Volunteer in the T1D Connections Program and as co-chair of the Utah Walk Committee. She believes in helping further JDRF’s mission in any way possible and simply connecting with others who “get it.”

Cheryl’s words of advice for those newly diagnosed with T1D? “You. Are. Not. Alone. If you want it, there are T1D community members available to meet you wherever you are – seeking advice, compassion or just a need to vent. It gets less overwhelming as you find your personal style for managing T1D. Life will change, but certainly goes on, and the new normal is not all doom and gloom.”

Vandana Raman

Dr. Vandana Raman, MBBS, MD, serves in various roles supporting the T1D community as a healthcare provider. Dr. Raman is Chief of the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology at University of Utah Health. Dr. Raman also serves as an Associate Professor in Pediatrics at the University of Utah; as Program Director of the Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes Fellowship Program at the University of Utah; and as Director of the Diabetes Intensive Management and Education Clinic, where she collaborates with behavioral health specialists to provide comprehensive care to patients with T1D. Dr. Raman is also active in clinical research and serves as the primary investigator and co-investigator in numerous clinical trials, including TrialNet. She is passionate about providing thoughtful care to all her patients.

Vandana’s words of advice for those newly diagnosed with T1D? “It is very exciting to see the evolution of diabetes technology and the technological innovations which have fundamentally changed diabetes care over the last several years. We are seeing amazing progress on many fronts, including cellular and immunotherapies, and the future appears to be very bright.”

Do you want to ensure your questions about life with T1D get answers? Make sure to submit your questions for our panelists ahead of time!

So how do I secure a spot?

You can learn more about the evening’s schedule and register to join us (for free!) on our event page!

Still have questions? Reach out to Andrea at asantoyo@jdrf.org.

We’ll see you there!