For every diabetic out there, whether you suffer from Type I, II, Adult Onset, or are in danger of becoming a diabetic, know that you CAN live your life to its fullest, without letting diabetes hold you back.

When I was 18 months old, I was diagnosed with Type I diabetes, also known as Juvenile Diabetes. Growing up, I'd have to endure finger pricks, insulin shots, self-control during birthday parties when the sweets were tantalizingly displayed for every kid to grab, and all the other limitations that diabetes entails. But despite all of that, I never stopped telling myself that I could enjoy my life as much as anyone without diabetes. I never stopped dreaming.

As a kid, I always wanted to be a firefighter. Since I was little, I'd wear my kid's turnout gear around the house pretending I was answering a fire call. But sometimes people told me that since I had diabetes, I couldn't be a firefighter. "How could you fight fires and save lives when you have to constantly worry about your own?" they'd ask. I would just look at them and shake my head, knowing that diabetes wouldn't--couldn't--stop me from achieving my dream. Now, at age 18, I've been with the Whippany Fire Department for over two years, I've battled a house fire, and I've responded to hundreds--yes, hundreds--of emergency calls, serving my community as a fully trained Whippany Fire Fighter. I did not let diabetes overcome my desire to be a firefighter. Of course, there are certain precautions I must take, such as keeping a bottle or two of Gatorade in my bunker pants in case I feel my blood sugar starting to drop on a fire call, but with those precautions taken care of, any diabetic can and should serve his or her community as a firefighter, EMT, police officer, or in whatever capacity he or she wishes. 

And not only am I a firefighter, but I am an author as well. As a kid, I loved reading fantasy, but I never imagined that one day I'd be writing one of my own. Well, as a junior in high school, I put pen to paper and started writing out what would become a 500 page fantasy novel entitled "The Silver Talon." In an effort to give back to the organizations that have helped make life with diabetes easier, I have committed to donating a part of the proceeds to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), along with other fundraisers for the American Diabetes Association (ADA), and the Goryeb Children's Center at Morristown Memorial Hospital, in the hopes that one day a cure might be found and all of us who have to live with this disease can one day say good-bye to blood sugar tests and insulin injections. Until that day comes, though, we endure, never letting it stop us from reaching our goals, fulfilling our potential, and living our dreams.