JDRF celebrates T1D trailblazers — those who overcome the trials and tribulations of chronic illness to accomplish truly extraordinary things. Diabetes is no match for the courage and determination of true champions; such individuals continually exhibit a desire to pursue greatness in the face of adversity. This month, we would like to recognize Caleb Montgomery for his inspirational achievements!
Fifteen-year-old Caleb — a sophomore at Lassen High School in Susanville, CA — was diagnosed with T1D in April of 2013, at the age of nine. As his parents Chris and Stacey Montgomery struggled with the fear and uncertainty of diabetes, they were overwhelmed by a variety of difficult questions about Caleb’s future: Would he be able to continue playing competitive sports and leading an active lifestyle? Could he still have a normal childhood? How would the diagnosis affect his outlook on life? The Montgomerys felt afraid and alone, but that quickly changed as they received an outpouring of support from the T1D community. One of Chris’s coworkers, a fellow T1D parent, approached him to offer guidance and advice — and their families became fast friends. JDRF reached out while Caleb was in the hospital, delivering a Bag of Hope and providing essential resources. Later, Caleb attended JDRF’s Camp Buck, an event promoting diabetes leadership, education, and management. According to the family, “The tools, educational materials and personal support of JDRF have been a security blanket for our family … we feel secure knowing they are right there”.
From an early age, Caleb enjoyed outdoor sports like hunting and fishing. At the age of eleven, his grandfather’s local club introduced him to trap shooting, and he discovered a new passion. Several years later, Lassen High School accepted the community’s request for a competitive trap team, creating the Lassen Grizzly Claybreakers under head coach Phil Giusti. Once Caleb entered high school, he quickly became a valued member of the Claybreakers. Early in the season, he earned a spot on the JV “A” squad of the top 5 shooters. Through sun, rain, and snow, he earnestly attended team practices and remained committed to personal excellence. Caleb continued to improve all year, surmounting the struggles of T1D as he helped his team win the regular-season division championship and the division state title for JV. His passion and dedication earned him the “Most Dedicated Shooter” award at the end of the season for attending the most practices and shooting the most rounds. A month later, Caleb continued to overcome obstacles at the YSSA US Open Nationals, earning his team the national title!
The Montgomerys hope their son’s story inspires other T1D youth in all their endeavors:
“Get involved locally in T1D education and JDRF camps and programs for youth. Community is everything. Don’t get into the mindset or the physical habit of letting the disease run you. You run it! NEVER GIVE UP OR GIVE IN! You can do anything, accomplish anything, and overcome any obstacle you set your heart, mind and T1D schedule to …. Most of all, remember you’re not the first person to go through this.”
We thank Caleb and his family for sharing their story of determination in overcoming T1D!
Written by: Lorena Bergstrom