Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Riding On Insulin - Australia! A huge success!!!

Someone told me many years ago that a person is truly blessed if they have a friend in every corner of the world.

In that case, the kids and I are, most definitely, truly blessed.

On 7 August 2011 (a little over a year ago) I was invited to attend the JDRF Research Luncheon in Sydney at which JDRF International's President, Jeffrey Brewer, was to be the special guest.

While the luncheon itself was informative and very interesting, I had no idea that some of the people I met at that luncheon would become very important to me, and to my children.

I am, of course, referring to Sean and Mollie Busby and their Aussie friend, Peter Yates.

Following that meeting I stayed in contact with Mollie and Peter. Mollie has kept me updated about Riding On Insulin camps both in Australia and Canada, and Peter joined the Parents of Aussie Kids with Type 1 Diabetes Support Network and is a wealth of information.

If you're familiar with our own story you would know that the kids and I attended the first Canadian Riding On Insulin ski/snowboard camp in March 2012 at Nakiska, just outside of Calgary. We were, of course, the only Aussies at that camp.

At the conclusion of that camp Sean and Mollie asked Tim if he would be interested in being a Junior Coach/Mentor for the camp they were planning in Australia during our ski season. Of course he said that he would love to help out! Tim had also made a good friend in one of the ROI coaches, and best friend of Sean Busby, Alex Zipperer - and was thrilled that Alex would also be attending the camp in Australia.

During the planning of the camp, and in the weeks leading up to the trip to Mt Baw Baw in Victoria we hit a few bumps in the road which forced me to contact Mollie and let her know that, unfortunately, the kids and I would not be able to attend. However, Mollie was determined to make sure we could get there so that Tim could fulfil his role as a Junior Coach/Mentor, and, so that I could run the parent networking session while our kids were out skiing on the Saturday morning.

Because of the kindness, understanding and generosity of Mollie and Sean Busby we were able to attend the first ever Australian Riding On Insulin Camp from 10-12 August 2012 at Mt Baw Baw in Victoria!


ROI had a wonderful response from volunteers through Diabetes Australia Victoria and for many of the kids at this camp there was a ratio of 1:1 when it came to supervision and support! Many of the volunteers had had previous experience at DA Vic kids camps and there were also Diabetes Educators from various hospitals and clinics in Victoria.

Joining Tim as a Junior Coach/Mentor was Peter Yates' 13 year old daughter Milly - who is a champion snowboarder herself. Tim and Milly, and also Issie, became fast friends and it was so amazing to see these kids feeling so relaxed and comfortable in each other's company.

On the morning of Saturday 11 August, once the kids were all sorted out and had gone off with their coaches, I gathered the parents in our "base" and began the parent networking session. I started by inviting each and every parent to introduce themselves and tell everyone their "story" or anything they'd like to share about life as a parent of a child with T1D. Each parent told their story and then we spent a few hours covering many topics. We were so involved in discussions that we barely noticed that our kids were starting to dribble back in to get ready for lunch.

The kids and I stayed in a lodge with Mollie, Sean and Alex and all of the volunteers for the ROI camp. On both the Friday and Saturday nights, after the orientation and the banquet, we were joined by Peter and Milly at Frosti Lodge where we pulled all the tables together and talked and laughed and shared stories for hours.

The ROI camp not only gave the kids and I the opportunity to spend more time with Mollie, Sean and Alex and to get to know Peter and Milly - but also to make MANY new friends and reconnect with some families we have met along the way since our journey with T1D began in April 2010.

All of the kids hit it off right away and there was not a moment during the entire weekend when I saw anything other than huge smiles on the faces of our kids.

I was sooooooo incredibly proud of a few of the kids in particular, who had never skied or boarded before and were absolutely terrified at the start of the camp! Those kids know who they are - they are amazing! Despite their fears they just got out and did it!

Our weekend with Mollie, Sean, Alex, Peter, Milly and all of the other participants and volunteers at the first ever Australian Riding On Insulin Camp at Mt Baw Baw most certainly showed me that the kids and I are truly blessed.

Mollie and Sean, we just can't thank you enough. Our door will always be open to you and Alex whenever you are in our neck of the woods and you will always remain in our hearts.

I would also like to say a huge THANK YOU to my lovely friend and fellow T1D Mum, Meg, her husband Dave and gorgeous T1D daughter Gemma who opened their home to us to break up the long trip from Sydney to Mt Baw Baw. If there is one wonderful thing about T1D it is that it brings people together. For the most part the people I have met through T1D are not just friends, they are family.

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