This is a continuation of “My Story“, my life’s journey towards becoming who I am today. Since it is rather long, I have broken it into sections(below) so you can read it at your leisure. Each step along the way has had its own particular relevance to me today. This is the FOURTH. Please click here to read:
NEW BEGINNING- the REAL “WHY”
As I mentioned, my story has 3 parts. The one I have yet to mention is the Beginning, the WHY?
When I shared my story with the kind stranger in Union Square, I spoke about my Aunt Gloria and my need to protect my daughter from diabetes. But I knew something was missing from my answer, I just didn’t know what it was.
I thought about it as I walked back from Union Square to my hotel and wondered, “had I not answered the question? If I did, why did it feel so incomplete?” That’s when it occurred to me. I had explained how diabetes affected my family, and how prevention is being lived out in my life, but it doesn’t explain why I have the need to help others.
WHY make the personal and financial sacrifices to start a non-profit organization to help others? Following my dream has not been easy on my family. I have been asked by numerous people why I don’t just quit and go get a corporate job; one that would be less stressful and would provide more for my family financially.
Here’s the thing… sometimes you just have to follow your heart. My heart leads me to help others, because I have been on the receiving end before.
I know what it is like be in a bad situation and want desperately for someone to come save you from someone else or from yourself.
The answer to the WHY is this: I have had my life threatened before, which has led me to want to help anyone who desperately wants the opportunity to fend off a disease that may threaten their life.
I believe that everyday a tragedy occurs. A person finds the strength and courage to free themselves from a bad situation long enough to ask for help, only to be turned away and forced back into the bad situation from which they left.
I started a non-profit organization that would not just educate people, but would empower them to take control of their lives. With support and guidance, they’re able to start a new chapter in their own life. One in which they will be a co-author.
I am a Christian. I believe that God gives us both rainbows and rainstorms. I have definitely had my fair share of storms.
When I was 8 yrs old, a rare disease attacked my brain, taking my eye sight (in my left eye) and threatened to take my life. I have been the target of a random act of violence and a sexual assault. I lost many people I love, including one whose life was just beginning.
My life experiences could have pointed me towards food or other addictions. I could have easily “swapped chapters” with many of the people we serve.
The difference between my story, in which I’ve chosen to get better not bitter, and find strength out of sorrow, is that I have very loving and supportive family and friends.
Many of the people we serve don’t have a support system to help them to wade through the storm and look to the horizon for the next rainbow.
As I mentioned in the beginning of my story, I left my conversation with the stranger in Union Square with a new opportunity; a blank slate on which I can write the next scene in my life and put it into motion.
My hope with the Skinny Gene Project has always been to give people the opportunity to live a better life. My experiences have helped me to understand the importance of treating the person, not just the disease. I believe we have to uplift the person if we want to defeat diabetes.
For this reason, the next chapter of my life will be a push to integrate a patient advocacy program into our organization. I want to provide prediabetes support groups and counseling that address the emotional and financial stressor that contributes to unhealthy eating.
God has given me a heart to help others. Making healthy lifestyle changes shouldn’t be about just making healthier food choices, but also about choosing to love oneself enough to truly live life.
I hope at the end, each person we touch will have the desire to pick up their pen and write a new beginning, a healthy story, into their life.