I've never been one to win things in this life. Once, as a student at an LA Times journalism conference, I won a sun visor as a door prize. That was about it. So you can imagine how floored and honored I was to receive an email last week from a manager in Eli Lilly's global communications group informing me that I have been selected as the winner of this year's LillyforLife Achievement Award for diabetes journalism. (See the press release)
Diabetes journalism? Do they have awards for that? Apparently so.
It seems that in 2002, a new category was added to the LillyforLife Achievement awards lineup -- traditionally including youth, adult, medical professional and caregiver spots (in addition to lifetime awards for people living on insulin for 25, 50, and 75 years). Lilly bestows its Achievement awards on "inspirational people in the diabetes community" selected by a panel of expert judges. Past winners in the journalism category include the dLife team and chef/author Judith Jones Ambrosini.
And this year, a blogger! Sign of the times, I suppose ;)
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So the next thing I knew I was sitting on a plane to Indiana (the company flies all the winners out to their Indianapolis headquarters for the awards ceremony), wondering what it would be like to share the limelight with the other five winners this year, the kind of people who make your jaw drop, all:
Jessica Stone, a bouncy and truly amazing 11th grade honor student who's overcome Tourette Syndrome and other health issues in addition to diabetes. She's an accomplished singer and actress and voices the Disney Channel character "Stanley" in the children's animated series. She attended with her exceptional mother, Suzy.
Patricia Ann La France, who was diagnosed with diabetes when she was two years old, and became a nurse (which I can well imagine because she's the sweetest, most helpful lady you can imagine). When diabetic retinopathy took her vision she became a rehabilitation counselor and has devoted her new career to assisting people with diabetes-related disabilities.
Dr. Arlan Rosenbloom, an innovator of programs for children with diabetes, who started the pediatric diabetes program at the University of Florida, pioneered the team approach to pediatric diabetes care, and founded Florida's camps for children with diabetes. Arlan attended the festivities with his lovely Norwegian wife, who everyone adored.
Julia Ziemieski, (who couldn't make the event), a devoted mother whose diabetic daughter nominated her for the "Friendly Faces" caregiver award.
Jack McCarthy, the man who walked across America for diabetes awareness in the early 1980's, received a special lifetime achievement award that will be carried forward in his name. Jack has been a successful insulin user for 70 years. And he's simply, well... jolly. His joy in life is infectious indeed!
And finally, an honorary LillyforLife Award for assistance dog "Belle," who saved the life of her owner, Kevin Weaver, by pressing the right buttons on the telephone to call for help when he experienced a diabetic seizure. Keep your eye out for Belle and Weaver, who will be featured on national television soon as well.
During our 3-day stay at Lilly's Indiana headquarters, we were wined and dined, introduced and guided and schooled in insulin production methods. Of course it was all very carefully orchestrated -- so we saw what they wanted to show us -- but captivating nonetheless. More details on "Eli Lilly from the Inside" coming soon. Meanwhile, I'm looking for the perfect spot on my desk for my new trophy. (Not that difficult, since there's so much space to choose from :)