As we head into the last minute gift-buying rush for the Holidays, it's a great time to feature our 2014 "Good Vibes" Holiday Giveaway winners -- along with a glimpse at the companies offering great diabetes prizes: Jerry the Bear and ChillMED, makers of some very nice D-travel bags.
Jerry the Bear
Here at the 'Mine, we're proud of how far Jerry the Bear has come in the years since his birth as a submission to our 2009 DiabetesMine Design Challenge, and it's great to see how much the newly created parent company Sproutel is doing to help get these snugly bears out to the D-Community. It was exciting to hear earlier this year that Jerry made it to the White House, and now as we get ready for 2015, Jerry's family has more exciting updates to tell us about!
2014 has been an exciting year for the Jerry the Bear team. After shipping our first bears last Christmas, we've been thrilled to receive incredible feedback from families about how Jerry has helped their children count carbs, check their blood sugar levels, and begin to talk about their diabetes. We started to collect some of these stories in the short video here.
Along with this outpouring of support also came dozens of families who reached out to say they couldn't afford Jerry. As a result, in July we launched an Indiegogo campaign to help donate bears to families who otherwise couldn't afford them. We are so excited to announce that our crowdfunding campaign exceeded our initial goal by more than 250%, meaning that we can donate over 215 bears in the coming year! Some of our bears will be heading to diabetes education and support organizations such as Diabetes Solutions of Oklahoma and Carb DM, as well as diabetes camps such as Camp Surefire and Camp Bluebonnet. Of course, the majority of donated bears will be on their way to families across the nation. We can't wait for Jerry to meet all of his new friends!
Speaking of making friends, Jerry recently made a trip out to Bermuda, along with his mama and papa bear, for a "Very Beary Picnic." The Bermuda Diabetes Association generously donated six bears, bringing Jerry to all of the kids with type 1 diabetes on the island (all 6 of them!)! Everyone loved Jerry and families enjoyed meeting other folks in the community who share their experience and struggles with type 1 diabetes.
Our mission has always been to bring Jerry the Bear to every child diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. To continue this effort, we've partnered with the Australia-based nonprofit Type 1 Diabetes Network to accept and review hardship applications for families that might not otherwise be able to afford Jerry. Any interested families who think that they might qualify for this help can fill out the application here.
That's so awesome to hear!
We at the 'Mine are thrilled to be providing two Jerrys for our giveaway winners this year. Here's what the first of them has to say:
Grandpa Joe Kangley in Rockwell City, Iowa, winning for his 6-year-old grandson Brayden, diagnosed 15 months ago:
Brayden's diagnosis came like so many we now read about. He wet the bed repeatedly, lost weight (which we didn't notice), and was thirsty and needed many bathroom breaks. His kindergarten teacher met his mom Christie one Friday afternoon and told her Brayden had been to the bathroom a lot that day. We went to the Spencer Fair that weekend and spent most of the time looking for restrooms. She took him to the doctor on Monday morning and he had high ketones and a blood sugar in the high 500s. He was sent right to Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines (95 miles from Fort Dodge, IA), and Christie said they had to stop twice on their drive for restrooms. At the hospital, they confirmed T1D with climbing blood sugars. The rest is history. Since then we have all learned a great deal about T1D, met many great families of T1D children, and supported chapters of JDRF through runs and walks in Iowa and Nebraska. Brayden attended Camp Hertko this summer and continues to be active and inspire all of us with his determination.
You sure made an old grandpa a happy person tonight. Brayden will be soooo excited! We have not told him about Jerry the Bear as yet. We hope to surprise him at Christmas if possible. He and Rufus (the JDRF bear) are inseparable and Jerry will be another wonderful tool to educate him and his friends about his living with diabetes. Again, thank you for this wonderful gift. We wish you a very Merry and Blessed Christmas.
* heavy sigh*
Meet ChillMED, a diabetes supply bag company founded by type 2 PWD Joe Cerami about a decade ago, in his quest to to find "an ideal carrying cases to better control the temperature of medications." His answer to this was a website dedicated to selling better insulin storage options. The company started off life as the Insulin Case Shop, and later became known as Group Medical Supply LLC, before taking on the "cooler" name ChillMED.
You may still recognize the first line of diabetes bags the Insulin Case Shop carried -- the Frio Cooling Wallets and Medicool cases. Now, the company's own ChillMED bags are designed to be "better and more densely insulated than many other bags on the market." The company's marketing manager Eric Nagel says they know this because they bought and dissected every other bag out there, and they still offer those other manufacturers' bags for sale. Interestingly, Nagel tells us they found in their bag R&D that zippers on many bags often broke after a year or less of use. So, with ChillMED, they added better quality zippers that they found to last longer. They also use a high thread count fabric that's heavier-guage and more durable. And the ChillMED bags compliment the popular Frio Cooling Wallet, with a mesh pocket on the outside allowing the wallet to breathe (necessary for temp control).
"Basically what we have done with the ChillMED line is create a superior yet affordable bag to accommodate the wide variety of needs of our diabetic customers," Nagel said. "Manufacturing the bag ourselves allowed us to cut out most of the cost, so we could sell a superior product directly to the consumer at prices competitive with other quality diabetic bags on the market today."
According to the company site, the variety of bags from different manufacturers they offer ranges in cost from $22 to $57.
With that, we're thrilled to hear how the gift bags from our giveaway are bringing joy to people in our D-Community this holiday season! Here are some notes from two of our three winners:
Laurie Lemos in San Jose, CA, is the mom of a teen daughter diagnosed a decade ago when she was 6.
"We're excited about the ChillMED bag because it looks like it's the perfect item we've been looking for. For traveling, Jacqui has used the same 'little girls' bag since she was diagnosed. Now that she's 16 years old, she's been wanting something a little more 'grown up.' We can't wait to put it to good use!"
Heike Fischer in Palo Alto, CA, whose son was diagnosed with T1D at age 4.
"He is now 12 years old and becoming increasingly independent, but diabetes management is still very much a family affair. I was hoping to win the bag! We love to go on day trips to the beach and to travel, and being able to carry all our diabetes supplies in one bag and keep them cool will be great!"
We love spreading D-happiness for the holidays! On that note, keep an eye out next week for our report on the "Good Vibes" contest entries, in which readers answered the question, ""How has learning to manage diabetes improved your relationship with others?"
Meanwhile, let us know if YOU've had a chance to use ChillMED bags or have a Jerry the Bear of your own at home... we'd love to hear about it.
Happy Holidays, All!