There was a great deal of sturm und drang last year over antics at the NFL. I think it is time for the NFL to promote its superheroes; athletes who are role models to millions of people-especially children.

There are lots of great athletes who speak on behalf of those who can’t or don’t have a national podium. One is tight end, Mark Andrews, a  6-foot-4, 256-pound football player for the Baltimore Ravens.

He speaks about diabetes. From personal experience. And my grandson, Max, who lives outside Baltimore, loves him because my grandson has Type 1 diabetes, too. He was diagnosed when he was 7. It has now been three years.  By watching Andrews he is learning that diabetes is not the end of anything. It is the beginning of something.  Since high school, “Andrews has never missed a practice or game due to diabetes. Instead of viewing it as an obstacle, Andrews has used the condition as a driving force, an opponent that must be defeated.”

For those who have not been around children with Type 1 diabetes-it is not an easy road. Children learn to read their sugars by pricking their fingers to take a blood sample. They learn about insulin and now how to deal with  technology like a CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor), which gets its information from a patch on the skin, and can allow parents to monitor their children with an app. Andrew’s mom has one her phone.

“My mom will always be my mom, so she still checks on me regularly. Last week, she texted me and said, ‘Hey, I don’t think you have enough complex carbs on board, you’ve been going low and trending low a lot. Just want you to eat something that gives you more complex carbs. I love you, hope you’re having a good week; I’ll talk to you soon!”

Mark wearing his CGM

And  now insulin pumps ( continuous subcutaneous insulin therapy); about the size of a pager, worn externally that sends the dose of insulin via a cannula (a small tube) inserted under the skin held there by a patch.The patch has to moved around on the skin, usually the stomach area, every few days.   

 

Good things these kids are techies.

 

 

 

I watch my daughter count carbs for every meal and my grandson is learning to take care of the count himself. He must learn at a young age to be self-sufficient. He created a wonderful power point presentation for school when he was diagnosed. And he sent it to me so I could understand what he does.

Everything Mark shared about his life after the diagnosis is what my grandson experienced, and everything his parents experienced, is what parents of all children diagnosed with Type I diabetes experience. First is shock.  Then comes living with diabetes. Coping with the disease at such a young age changed Andrews life forever. Monitoring his blood sugar levels, watching his diet closely, and taking insulin became part of his daily regimen.

Andrews is a living breathing example of “overcoming the unexpected and doing it with grace.”

“That was probably the biggest one for me – not letting this disease define me. I did everything I could to show everyone, that even with diabetes, I could be one of the top tight ends in the world. That has always driven me.”

Andrews teaches the most important lesson. Not to ask the question “why me? Andrew knows the real question is; how do you respond to difficult life events? Will you be bitter;or will you choose to be better. Andrews chose better and as a role model he can help  1.25 million American children and adults who have Type 1 diabetes.

He hopes his platform as an NFL player will inspire youngsters who have been diagnosed with diabetes.

“That’s huge for me, something that’s dear to my heart. I’m on a stage, being in the NFL. For a lot of reasons, I want to make the most of it.”

Let’s start showcasing the real NFL superheroes.

 

From the Ethics of the Fathers: “Rabbi Tarfon used to say, it is not incumbent upon you to complete the task, but you are not exempt from undertaking it.”