Stories Around the Campfire: Our Commitment to Young Campers With Type 1 Diabetes

Sep 27, 2016 10:35 AM ET

Summer has come to a close, leaving behind for many children and teens happy memories of camp. Sanofi US has a strong legacy of supporting those memories through donations  (see Sanofi Foundation for North America graphic below) and by volunteering at camps for young people with Type 1 diabetes. Camp is over for the season, but let’s circle round the campfire and sing the praises of many employees with generous hearts, such as these:

Camp Nejeda, Stillwater, N.J.

Part of the fun of camp is seeing your buddies summer after summer.  Sanofi  US employees are those kind of friends at Camp Nejeda, the only camp of its type in New Jersey and neighboring areas; many return each year and bring their family and friends to help, too.  On four Sundays this summer,  20 employees handled the check-in paperwork so counselors could  be in their cabins meeting and greeting the campers and their families. 

“Volunteering at Camp Nejeda brings you closer to children with Type 1 diabetes and their families, where you see and hear firsthand their experiences managing diabetes. It is a learning opportunity to see the types of diabetes management support Camp Nejeda provides the children in a fun environment,” says Jay Subramanian, Sr. Manager, Diabetes Market Research, one of the returning volunteers.  “It is amazing to hear from kids that have found a place of support where they can learn and be with other kids that struggle with the same daily challenges – it gives them a sense of community.” 

American Diabetes Association Teen Adventure Camp, Ingleside, Ill.

Ken Kortas, a Diabetes Regional Medical Liaison from Illinois, has lived with Type 1 diabetes for 52 years, so his enthusiasm for volunteering at this northern Illinois camp for teens with Type 1 is understandable – and contagious. “I know exactly what these kids are going through,” says Ken, who has served 12+ years on the camp’s committee and also is on the ADA National Youth Strategies Committee. “When everyone around you is taking time out from activities for finger sticks, no one feels self-conscious. You’re not the only one anymore.”

When Ken and Sara Giaimo, also a Diabetes Regional Medical Liaison, volunteer at the ADA Teen Adventure camp, it’s not only the teens that benefit. Sara and Ken share their expertise with the physicians, nurses, medical residents and pharmacy students who volunteer at the camp.  “Every resident tells us on the last day that they’ve learned more about diabetes in the last week then they had in all of their medical schooling and residency,” said Ken.  “But the best teachers are the campers. We learn from the campers as much as the campers learn from us!”