The program began with a bang, Marty Miserandino gave a moving speech about how his family has been affected by diabetes, and I didn’t see a dry eye in the room of over one-hundred people. It was an amazing way to kick off the event, after an exciting icebreaker event that almost caused a brawl everyone was relaxed and could enjoy the event. We would hear from various speakers about the state of diabetes, the successes of the ADA and corporate sponsorship. The amount of information that I learned was more than I could ever imagine. A lot of people including myself find it easy to put down the ADA, a lot of people don’t realize the amount of work that they do for everyone affected by all forms of diabetes. In meeting the CEO of the ADA I was taken aback at his passion not only for diabetes but each individual affected by the disease.
After a networking lunch where I continued to meet new and amazing people, the next event on the agenda was a town hall meeting. The CEO and Executive director of the New England ADA would answer any questions asked by people that were in attendance. Again I found myself learning new information about people’s concerns about diabetes. The rest of the afternoon consisted of a volunteer skill development class and learning about the resources available for volunteers. All that was left were the closing remarks. That’s where I stepped in.
After being introduced I did what only a Noonan would do. I was in shock that my name was on a projection screen and that I was actually in a position to give the closing remarks. Before heading up to the stage I made sure my picture was taken with the screen. I honestly never thought I would be in that position after all that I have been through. I began my speech with a joke to loosen myself up and let the crowd know that I’m just a normal guy. Then came my story, for the first time ever the crowd collectively gasped at how high my A1C had been when I was at my worst as a diabetic. My story is all truth and to see the emotion on the crowds face takes me back to where I was when I wasn’t taking care of myself. For the first time I was unable to keep in the emotion that I was feeling, seeing everyone close to tears and reliving my past just hit me. As hard as it is to tell my story I do it so people know what diabetes can do and so that no one will ever have to go through what I did. As I finished up my speech I spoke of my goals and challenged everyone in attendance to challenge themselves. I believe in the saying, “Go big or go home”. To me that means don’t set a goal that is easily obtainable, set the goal higher than you think you can go, you will be amazed at what you will accomplish.
When I speak I hope that I connect with everyone in the crowd in some way. The number of people who came over when I was done was very humbling. I can’t thank everyone involved with ADA enough for giving the opportunity to speak today. I have bad days just like everyone else and when I do I think about my “diabetes family” and what they mean to me. My “diabetes family” gets me through the good and the bad days. Again I can thank everyone enough for everything that they do!!!