What do you get when one Australian diabetes blogger decides to hit the States for a multi-city tour aiming to connect him with a whole mess of U.S. online diabetes advocate friends, asking them to show up at either Los Angeles, Kansas City, or New York City?
You get Simonpalooza, a diabetes meet-up of epic proportions. Conceived earlier this summer when Simon, a 30-something type 1 who guest blogged for us about living with diabetes in Australia, decided to come to America with the goal of meeting as many people with diabetes as he could.
What came out of that announcement is nothing short of a miracle, as more and more folks signed up to be Simon's Welcoming Committee. Simon arrived in LA on Friday Oct. 7, and was greeted by George Simmons, and then flew the next day to Kansas City where 25 PWDs and their loved ones welcomed him with open arms. Simon is now in New York City, where the 3rd and final Simonpalooza party will take place this Saturday, Oct. 15, with dozens more "networked PWDs" expected to show! (contact Caroline Sheehan for more info)
I had the pleasure and privilege of being amongst the crowd who met Simon at his Kansas City stop on his three-city journey across the country. We crammed a ton of fun into 48 hours: a pre-party at Jess's home on Friday; a visit on Saturday to Barbara Campbell, also a guest blogger here, who has diabetes and breast cancer, and was in the hospital for an infection following cancer surgery; a landing party for Simon's arrival at the airport (there were tons of onlookers!); followed by a big BBQ dinner — where we discovered our waitress also has diabetes! — plus more chatting and hanging out at the hotel; and finally a farewell brunch on Sunday.
My husband joined me and we've edited together a little snapshot of what Simonpalooza was and what it meant to the people who attended:
Hopefully this inspires you to reach out and create your own meet-ups. The diabetes online community is amazing and I wouldn't trade the relationships I've developed online for anything (save for a cure, of course!). But there really is something very unique and special about sitting next to these real-live PWDs, hearing the beeps of an insulin pump and shunk of a lancet, seeing someone else nervously glance at their CGM after eating a cupcake, and feeling the warmth of a real hug when you really need one.