November Cure Champion

Sharing Our Story:  Team Awesome Annie!

Annie was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) on May 8, 2017 at the age of five. The first few months were a whirlwind: processing the shock of diagnosis, grieving what once was, learning how best to manage the disease, and focusing on hope for the future. Annie was the one with T1D, but the disease affected everyone in our family of six. We knew that through the highs and lows, we must all work together as a team to support Annie and each other. In those early days, a sibling would hold Annie’s hand during injections. The family would come together to cheer “1-2-3, Awesome Annie!!!” and that is how Team Awesome Annie came to be.  

In October 2017, five months after diagnosis, Team Awesome Annie participated in our first JDRF One Walk in Rhode Island. We were joined by about twenty close friends and family. Being part of the event was a wonderful experience. I remember looking around in amazement at the other children wearing CGMs and getting injections just like Annie. We were surrounded by families just like ours, hoping for a cure for T1D.

As the 2018 One Walk approached, I was inspired to share our story so that others would have a better understanding of the importance of JDRF, the One Walk event and the need for a cure. We have always been quite open when asked about this aspect of our lives, but I was ready to step out of my comfort zone and, with Annie’s blessing, actively share our story.  We began sharing videos on my facebook page. We shared everything from basic facts and how we do a pump site change to the challenges of being a T1D child, caregiver and sibling. Awesome Annie was truly the star of this effort. Her openness, bravery and honesty was incredible. The experience of sharing her story was empowering for Annie because it allowed her to educate others, build her confidence and take pride in her accomplishments.

A significant addition to this year’s team was Annie’s “diabestie,” Keith, who was diagnosed just one year before Annie at the age of 35. A co-worker of Annie’s dad, Keith quickly became a family friend and great resource for all things T1D. He even sports the purple unicorn CGM patches from Annie! We were thrilled to have Keith and his family and friends join us in spreading awareness and supporting Team Awesome Annie.

Our story resonated with people from all aspects of our lives as evidenced in the support we received for Team Awesome Annie. At this year’s One Walk Rhode Island event, our team of walkers numbered 72 and raised over $21,000 for JDRF! The experience of this year’s walk was more than I could have ever imagined. I am forever grateful for all those who walked, contributed and helped share our story. T1D does not define Annie or our family, but it is a significant part of our story. This year’s One Walk experience is another chapter that inspires teamwork and community, gives us strength to face the challenges of each new day and brings hope for a world without type 1 diabetes for Annie, Keith, and all those affected by T1D.

I can’t wait to see what next year brings for Team Awesome Annie!

-Bonnie Ellis
Team Co-captain & Mom