The 2008 Summer Olympics are still fresh on everyone’s mind, so this is the perfect time for this blog. I mentioned in an earlier writing that Nikki was able to meet someone very special at diabetes camp this summer. His is name is Kris Freeman and he is a world class athlete and Olympian. For those of you who may not be familiar with him, here is a brief description of him by one sports writer: “For Park City, Utah–based [Kris] Freeman, the best Nordic skier this country has produced in a generation, there's no getting around the needles. The 2003 under-23 world champion now has a shot—albeit a long shot—at walking away with America's first Olympic hardware in cross-country since Bill Koch took silver in the 30K at Innsbruck in 1976. That's because Kris Freeman is the world's best endurance athlete [with diabetes] (Outside Magazine, 2006).”
When we picked Nikki up from camp one of the first things she said to me was “we got to meet a famous athlete and he gave me his autograph and he took a picture with me! And Mommy guess what?! He has diabetes too! And he was in the Olypmics!” Now for sports fans this sounds like a perfectly reasonable thing to immediately say to your parents, whom you haven’t seen for a week; however, we are talking about a 10 year old girly ballerina. Oh, wait, I forgot to mention how intensely competitive this girly ballerina is didn’t I? Seriously, majorly competitive; for example, last week at a high school football game she was attempting to push a blocking sled, when she couldn’t accomplish that on her own she enlisted the help of her 8 year old cousin Michael and together they actually moved the thing, she wouldn’t quit until she made it move atleast a little. I think that has given her the edge she has used and will continue to use to overcome diabetes, stay in the battle on the days (or weeks) when her sugar is on a crazy roller coaster ride, no matter how tightly we try to control it (her growing body just does what it wants to her sugar levels sometimes). That competitive spirit is what she saw in Kris Freeman, it’s what she identified with apart from him having diabetes. He’s overcome the disease in many ways; to her that means she can to; if he can, I can.
I was so impressed with her excitement that I came home to look him up for myself. After my initial thought “man is he hot!” I became even more impressed with the person he appears to be. Here is a snapshot of diabetes from Kris’s own words: “I have been diabetic for seven years. In that time I have never had to compromise my lifestyle because of my condition. I have carefully selected the people I use as resources for information and guidance. My number one requirement for seeking out these people is that they do not use the words can’t or impossible. A doctor that uses those words is setting boundaries and limitations on what I can accomplish. I live my life without limits. (K. F. 11/15/2007)”
Living your life without limits; now that is a motto we should all embrace! I e-mailed his coach Zach Caldwell, before I began this blog entry. I wanted to make sure I had permission to use some of what I’ve read on his blog and website. I received an INSTANT response, which I am more than a little grateful for. (He really does surround himself with good people). Actually, here is the response I received
“Hi Sheri – Please go ahead and link the site, or use any content you like for your blog. If you’d like additional photos let me know. I’ll pass your message directly along to him.
Best of luck to your daughter in realizing her ambitions. I’ve known Kris since long before he was diagnosed, and I can say without doubt that managing diabetes has made him a more effective person. For Kris, it’s more of an asset than a liability because it ensures that his focus can never slip from the task at hand. I think that can be the case for any diabetic who has the will and determination to control their own destiny.
At the bottom of our site is a list of links to other sites or blogs that we love and visit regularly. This list now includes both Kris Freeman’s blog and his website. I know for sure that our household will be glued to the television during the next Winter Olympics cheering on a man who stands for far more than gold.