Contributor: AJ Cunder; www.thesilvertalon.com
Connection: Person with type 1 diabetes
As a kid, I always wanted to be a firefighter. Since I was little, I’d wear my kid’s turnout gear around the house pretending I was answering a fire call. But sometimes people told me that since I had diabetes, I couldn’t be a firefighter. “How could you fight fires and save lives when you have to constantly worry about your own?” they’d ask. I would just look at them and shake my head, knowing that diabetes wouldn’t–couldn’t–stop me from achieving my dream. Now, at age 18, I’ve been with the Whippany Fire Department for over two years, I’ve battled a house fire, and I’ve responded to hundreds–yes, hundreds–of emergency calls, serving my community as a fully trained Whippany Fire Fighter. I did not let diabetes overcome my desire to be a firefighter. Of course, there are certain precautions I must take, such as keeping a bottle or two of Gatorade in my bunker pants in case I feel my blood sugar starting to drop on a fire call, but with those precautions taken care of, any diabetic can and should serve his or her community as a firefighter, EMT, police officer, or in whatever capacity he or she wishes.