My name is Jonathan Bryant and I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 11 years old. I thought it was the worst thing ever and didn’t understand why I had to do all I had to do to take care of myself. I was embarrassed to check my blood sugar and would hide from friends and the general public as much as possible. The summer after I was diagnosed my parents made me go to a camp for diabetic children called Camp Seal Harris. I begged them to not make me go. I didn’t want to be around “kids like that”. It didn’t matter how much I begged I had to go, little did I know it would be the start to a new way of life. While at camp I met people that have became great friends that I am still friends with now. I learned that I was no different then any other kid. I was the same as everyone else but just had to handle life a little differently. Camp was an eye opener for me and I met people that were normal and didn’t look “weird” and had normal lives and jobs and that made me feel so much better. As I grew up and continued going to camp I made the transition from camper to counselor because I wanted to help other kids with diabetes like my counselors helped me. I wanted them to see they could do anything they wanted even though they had diabetes. I would tell them how they didn’t need to let people stereotype them because of diabetes. I was in the Boy Scouts and achieved the rank of Eagle Scout as well as my high school marching band. After I graduated high school I started the school and training I needed to become a fire fighter/paramedic. After a few years of working towards that I was hired at Hueytown fire and rescue. Once hired I had to complete a 12 week training program much like boot camp where I had to prove myself over and over showing that even though I have diabetes I can do this job as well as anyone else. I am now 7 years into my firefighting career and I feel that having diabetes has made my life a little more challenging in some ways but it has also made me a better person. It has made me have to push myself harder to show that I am no different then any other person and that just because you have diabetes no one can tell you that you can’t do something, because if you want to you can.
February 9, 2014