Thought for the Day

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Let's Roll

One of the problems with being slow to blog about what happens in your life is the fact that other things come along.
I have been intending to write about the Carlsbad Marathon weekend for two weeks now. I did start a blog post, but didn't get very far. But something else happened Wednesday that demands my attention today.

Jesse Alswager passed away at the age of thirteen, after 10 years of fighting type 1 diabetes. When I say fighting, I don't just mean like all of us type 1 diabetics fight, with finger stick blood tests, injections or infusion sets, CGMs, counting carbs, thinking through the metabolic effects of every meal, every bit of physical activity, everything....
What I mean is that he was fighting like he was in a war.
When Jesse was diagnosed at the age of three, his mother, Michelle Alswager, declared war on the disease, and she took her son into battle.
Jesse raised thousands of dollars for the cure, a cure he will never enjoy. Michelle, as a member of the board of directors for several diabetes foundations and eventually an executive at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation was involved in raising millions.
Jesse met governors, Congress members, First Lady Bush. Politicians loved to be photographed with him and talk about him.
I never met Jesse. I wish I had the chance to thank him. He did a lot for me.

One of the things that Michelle Alswager did to raise funds for the cure was the JDRF Ride for the Cure. She met type 1 diabetic athletes, and learned how they were overcoming the challenges of the disease.
Michelle became a cyclist, then a triathlete, then an Ironman. Some time in 2006 she came up with the idea of a type 1 diabetic triathlon team, and a documentary about how they could train for and complete an Ironman.
That was how Triabetes began.
Triabetes has had a profound effect on my life, and I know that it has touched many more diabetics out there.
When I first heard, it knocked the wind out of me. It was more than a little discouraging personally, to learn that the inspiration for Triabetes had died. The inspiration had died. Yeah, that's how I felt.
And it was heart-breaking to think that Michelle Alswager, who had worked to spread hope to people like her son, people like me, suffering from type 1 diabetes, had lost her son.
For several hours this was a hope-crushing thought for me.
But now I've decided that it's part of this war. I've been around for the war, but mostly on the sidelines. I have not yet begun to fight.
I have to take to the battlefield now.

This has been true for the past couple of years, but I would like you to take notice of it now. There is almost always a link on the left hand side of my blog to some diabetes-related charity. Right now it is the Tour de Cure for the American Diabetes Association, but that will change. There will always be something.
If you read my blog, please consider, every few weeks, clicking one of the links and making a donation. This request is my first tentative step.
Tonight I'll be swimming, thinking of Jesse. Tomorrow I'll run. In March, I'll ride for the ADA. Later this year I'll ride for the JDRF.
Next year I'll complete an Ironman.

Anne is in contact with the Alswager family and will post information about memorial services and how to express condolences on her blog.

UPDATE: There is a memorial site for Jesse at:


Mike said...

Jesse was my best friend throughout 6th and 7th grade I cant believe he is gone i will never forget you jesse

Chris.D said...

Jesse i will never forget you, you were always a great friend to me. I love you as a brother see you in heaven. ~Chris Dadds

Anonymous said...

This is heartwrenchly sad. How did this young man die? How can this be?

jpnairn said...

I am curious about how Jesse died, but I'm not going to pry. On his memorial site, Michelle says, "On February 3rd, 2010, at age 13, my son Jesse Alswager passed away due to complications with type 1 diabetes. [....] Diabetes is a horrible disease that attacks under the best of care..."
There are many ways diabetes could have been responsible for his death. This is a reminder that we, those with type 1 diabetes, are living on the edge.
Each of us would be dead with insufficient insulin, yet insulin may someday kill us.

Michelle said...

I want to comment.

He didn't feel well in the morning - he didn't want to go to school and he told me he was having a diabetes day. At 3:30 he was found slumped over the sink at my home. he was gone. He was brought back to life long enough for us to all say goodbye. I felt him slip right through my hand, literally.

Coroner has found nothing more than dka. I wish I could comfort you with saying it was something else.

I fight harder. I fight stronger. Our family loves each other and our extended family in the "d" world has shown up on my doorstep ten times of what I have given to the d community - that tells you how much love there is here.

I will be riding in Death Valley once again for my loving, funny, sweet, smiling, perfect, wonderful boy. Anyone who knew him - even for a second - will leave this world a better person.

Thank you "Incurable Runner" for posting.

Michelle & family

Lindsey said...

Our thoughts and prayers go out to your family Michelle, and also to all those who loved and cared from Jesse.
Too many parents lately have been burying their children...breaks my heart. Praying, hoping, and pushing for a cure...

Lindsey O.


Fat Cat Anna said...

I just saw Jesse's video he did for his school project - I wish I'd been able to do something like that when I was his age (I was diagnosed at age 7 back in 1968). Back then people never understood diabetes, especially amongst us youngsters like Jesse.
It is with a heavy heart that I type this out, seeing that Jesse passed away. Very hard to fathom this for someone of such a young age, and here I am 49, and still here, even with all the Stone Age devices I felt I used to keep myself somewhat in control.
Michelle, I hope you continue your quest to keep people enlightened, just like many of us do who have PWD's, to make people aware that diabetes is not something to be taken light hearted. It is not always a picnic in the park for some of us, but we try to make it the best we can.
Stay strong and Jesse, now that you're up in heaven - you don't have to check your BG's and can eat to your hearts content (that's one of my wishes for when I'm in heaven - chocolate syrup fountains - ice cream!!!).

Tracy said...

What a brave little guy. Your family is such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing and your commitment to the fight. You are not alone. :)