Medical Condition: Type 1 Diabetes
Medical Therapy: Insulin Pump
Charities: Penpals United
Jack Terschluse was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 11. Receiving an insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor provided him with flexibility and confidence. As a result of his new life, Jack, now 23, started a global nonprofit, Penpals United, which offers online support groups to children with type 1 diabetes in resource-poor communities worldwide. Opportunities to connect with their peers help these children and their families realize that, with the proper skills and devices, diabetes does not have to control their lives. Jack’s Bakken Invitation Award will help train teenagers with diabetes in poor communities in India to start sustainable day camps for other children. In addition, it will be used to create a grant fund for children to begin their own support programs.
“In 2005, at age 11, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I quickly developed a fear of low blood sugar, which severely limited my ability to play sports and be with friends. However, because I received an insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor, I was able to overcome that fear. These devices have freed me from diabetes’ shackles, giving me flexibility and confidence. I can now live life without limits!
“This new life led me to start a global nonprofit, Penpals United, in 2012. Penpals United offers online support groups to children with type 1 diabetes in resource-poor communities worldwide. We help kids who live with diabetes develop into leaders who overcome stigmas about their disease. The technologies I use help me communicate with these children and their families, reassuring them that, with the proper skills and devices, diabetes does not have to control their lives.
“Connecting globally with children who have type 1 diabetes has taught me the value of breaking down cultural, age, geographic, education and economic boundaries. I have seen children of different faiths, races and incomes become best friends through Penpals United support groups. I have seen those who previously had problems accepting people with diabetes come to fully welcome them. These experiences have taught me that if we concentrate on what we have in common, we can transcend our differences.
“Children come to the support group as forgotten individuals and grow to become leaders. For example, Surbhi, a teenage girl with diabetes and one of my personal heroes, says, ‘I had fear of low blood sugar like Jack. I didn’t want to talk to anyone about it because people would make fun of me or shun me. I hid my diabetes. But the support group helped me realize that I can be happy with diabetes.’”
Jack is also involved in fundraising activities for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). In 2015, he rode 100 miles in JDRF’s Ride to Cure Diabetes and raised over $4,000. Jack is a student at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law.
“If we concentrate on what we have in common, we can transcend our differences. That is something beautiful.”
“Many miles. Many people with type 1 diabetes. One connection.” This is the motto of Penpals United, a nonprofit organization that provides emotional support and role models to children with type1diabetes via Internet-based video support groups and letter-writing opportunities. Penpals United was founded by Jack Terschluse, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2005 at age 11. The grant will help train teenagers with diabetes in poor communities in India to start sustainable day camps for other children. In addition, it will be used to create a grant fund for children to begin their own support programs.
*Not everyone who receives this therapy will receive the same results as the patient in this story. Talk with your doctor to determine if this type of therapy is right for you.