Welcome to the results of our 2016 DiabetesMine Patient Voices Contest!

We’d like to thank EVERYONE who entered the contest and supported this effort — not least this year’s guest judge, blogger and outspoken advocate Christel Aprigliano.

Our team really enjoyed getting to know the various applicants and reading about their mentoring approaches. We’re always blown away by the never-ending supply of great people in this community. 

Christel, who’s a two-time winner of this contest herself, says:

I’m inspired by thoughtful and heartfelt solutions to help support our community from this year’s Patient Voices participants.

“The DiabetesMine Innovation Summit is well-known for bringing together forward-thinkers for crucial conversations about the future of diabetes. I’m sure that this year’s lively discussions will marry the big ideas of technology with mentoring support of the daily challenges presented by our Patient Voices. It’s going to be incredibly difficult to top some of the previous DiabetesMine Innovation Summits, but I have a feeling that this will be the best one yet!”


This year’s winners were once again chosen based on the combination of their ideas, passion, background, and expressed reasons for wanting to be part of the Innovation Summit. 

With that, drumroll please…  we now unveil our 2016 winners (in alphabetical order):


  • Randall Barker – a longtime type 1 PWD (person with diabetes) himself and also a parent of a type 1 daughter, diagnosed in 2013. Randall was profiled by the ADA recently.  
    • Mentor Focus: For parents of PWDs, “Allow the children to be themselves. Remember a time before the child was diabetic and how you would handle a situation then, while there are a few exceptions, don’t let diabetes hold your child back.”
  • Kayla Brown – an energetic 20-something Canadian who was diagnosed with T1D in 2009 at age 18. She jumped in with both feet as a blogger at Kayla’s Life Notes, creator of humorous Type 1 Diabetes Memes, host of a weekly “T1 Empowerment” support group for teen girls living with type 1, and she even took on the role of International Diabetes Federation Young Leader for a few years. (You go girl!)  
    • Mentor Focus: She tells the teen girls in her group to “take diabetes day by day but also seek help when needed.”  She says it’s crucial that we PWDs “have a proper outlet to speak our frustrations, whether online, in person, or to a friend or social worker… No issue is too small to talk about.”
  • Polina Bryson – a psychologist and D-Mom whose daughter was diagnosed with T1D and Celiac in 2013. She’s become an avid activist for both, writing at her blog, T1D and Gluten-Free. She talks a lot about the challenges of building a support system “that fully embraces and supports our entire family, as well as managing burnout for both (our) PWDs and us parents, as her caregivers.”  
    • Mentor Focus: Polina has many words of wisdom, including “find your tribe,” “Let go of perfection,” “Don’t be afraid to experiment,” and “Trust yourself and trust your child — learn together.”
  • Jonathan Davis – a type 1 PWD based in Chicago who works in the health insurance industry and was a research assistant on T2 diabetes back in college. “What struck me back then… was the paternalistic manner in which physicians viewed their role and how discordant it was with my experience with my endocrinologist,” he writes, adding that finally now, “patients are starting to be recognized as both decision makers and problem solvers for their care.”  
    • Mentor Focus: How to “Bend the Curve by Using Data Smartly.”
  • Mariana Gomez – a type 1 who writes, “I am a proud diabetes educator and advocate in my country (Mexico). We have little, almost no information regarding technology. Some of us who can read and understand English use social media to receive and translate messages. We then spread the information to help our peers. I am very interested in technology. My husband is a developer and we’ve been following closely new technology (DIYPS), and want to help peers in my country to achieve their goals that way.”  
    • Mentor Focus: Access to tools, and addressing “tiredness and burnout.” See an example of her Spanish-language videos here.
  • Sarah Mart – a 36-year veteran of type 1 diabetes and Director of Operations for the national DiabetesSisters organization. She’s participated in numerous clinical trials on D-tech innovations over the years and found that the devices created “a different kind of irritation.” Her stated mission is to be part of the solution to make these tools the best they can be, and accessible to all.  
    • Mentor Focus: Using camaraderie, i.e. “sharing and commiserating about what kicks our D-commitment over the edge, along with info about new, interesting devices, drugs, and treatments that could make our lives easier and our outcomes better.”
  • Cassie Moffitt – diagnosed with type 1 in 1983 at the age of 17 months, Cassie is now a school nurse and Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE). “I have built a life around wanting to know more about diabetes,” she writes.  
    • Mentor Focus: Using humor to “take back the power from diabetes,” and helping her patients and their family members to cope with “the feelings that come from sometimes well-meaning, but grossly misinformed people.”
  • Molly Schrieber – this ueber-advocate was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 9, and has now had it for 28 years. Her father, grandfather, and cousin all have diabetes as well, so she grew up knowing the struggle from many vantage points. Molly also lives with Rheumatoid Arthritis and advocates voraciously for both conditions. She blogs at AtJax, and describes herself as an avid user of data who “tracks everything — blood sugar, fitness, food, sleep, mood, stress, etc.”  
    • Mentor Focus: She encourages others to also “Keep track of everything, use your data!” and also to “ask questions of everyone” including your doctor and as many fellow patients as possible.
  • Josef Sokolsky – a Florida-based type 2 self-proclaimed “gadget junkie” who is anxious to pass on his knowledge and foibles of dealing with T2 diabetes for the past 10+ years.  
    • Mentor Focus: The always-challenging hurdle of learning to practice moderation in your diet.
  • Sophia Walker – a 30-something who’s had type 1 since the age of six, and is now studying for a Master’s degree in health social psychology. Sophia blogs at Getting to 7, and she just recently entered the ballot for a place in the 2017 London Marathon — something she says “would have felt like insanity to me only a few years ago” before being armed with the latest diabetes tech.  
    • Mentor Focus: Opening up about our fears living with this incredibly challenging condition, and facing down our own self-doubt.


CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL! You’ll be hearing from us soon with details on your Summit participation.