There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2, which affect approximately 26 million people in the United States alone – including a significant percentage of students at Geneseo. As a Type 1 diabetic since the age of five, Geneseo Diabetics Association President sophomore Jonathan Anderson said that after encountering other diabetics at Geneseo, he decided that it would be beneficial to have a place for those students to support one another.
In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin, a hormone needed to convert sugar and other food into energy. This causes a person’s blood glucose, or “blood sugar,” levels to remain unregulated in the body, according to the American Diabetes Association website.
“I had never seen so many diabetics in my life,” Anderson said. “I think you feel this sort of instant connection with other diabetics, because you have this sort of shared experience, even though you’ve never met.”
In fall 2013, with the help of sophomore Aaron Spector, Anderson helped found GDA in order to give those students a forum to talk about what it means to be a diabetic today, as well as what it specifically means to be a diabetic in college.
Anderson said that GDA was officially sanctioned only about six weeks ago, but decided to waste no time in getting its name out into the community and hosted the first event, “The Geneseo Diabetics Association’s First Annual Talent Show,” on April 18 in order to raise both awareness and funds for the cause.
As the philanthropy chair for Sigma Nu Chi fraternity and current GDA treasurer, Spector said that he decided to enlist the support of his fraternity brothers to prepare for the show and give the club the kick start it needed.
“Without Sig Nu the event would not have been possible, they really stepped up.” Spector said. “I’m so proud and so thankful for their help, they deserve a lot of credit.”
“They went above and beyond,” Anderson said. “We gave them a list of things to do on Friday, and then we came back in, like, five minutes and it was completely done. We needed them, and they were great.”
In total, 10 acts competed in the event, which incorporated a variety of unique talents, including original music by senior Atosa Ghasripoor, extreme hula hooping by freshman Ben Spaid, performances by the Slainte Irish Dancers and a Winterguard performance so big it had to be moved outside.
Anderson said the Talent Show was successful beyond their expectations, bringing in what Spector said was much more than they anticipated.
“We raised [over $800] in total, which was way more than we expected,” Spector said. “We’re really happy with it, and hopefully next year will be even better.”
Anderson said that looking to the future, GDA has three essential goals they’d like to keep in mind: to support students who currently have diabetes, to spread awareness about the disease to the campus community and to raise money to support the efforts of the American Diabetes Association.
“I think there used to be this common misconception that having diabetes comes from being out of shape, which isn’t true,” Anderson said. “Growing up, you always heard those ‘Someone had ten candy bars and ate them all, now what do they have? They have diabetes’ jokes – but I think that’s definitely changing. People are becoming more understanding and open about it.”