“Every day with type 1 diabetes is an accomplishment,” says Jeff Hitchcock who founded Children with Diabetes (CWD) after his daughter, Marissa, was diagnosed in 1989 at just two years old.  

Today, Hitchcock says his favorite part of the day is reading the submissions for a “Journey Award”, then shipping the beautiful coins to recipients across the United States. REQUEST a JOURNEY AWARD HERE!

If you have at least a decade of type 1 diabetes (T1D) behind you, you might consider requesting a “Journey Award”. Journey Awards recognize people who’ve lived with T1D for 10, 25, 50, and 75 years with a coin made with real precious metals: 

  • 10-year coin: made with bronze 
  • 25-year coin: made with silver  
  • 50-year coin: made with gold  
  • 75-year coin: made with silver and gold

CWD Journey awards for those living with t1dThese awards were first managed by Lilly Diabetes, but CWD recently adopted this program with Lilly’s continued financial support.

When you’ve been managing this disease for even just a couple of decades, it’s easy to forget how much work you do every single day to stay alive. 

Recognizing the work of staying alive with T1D 

“Since shipping our first award in June of 2022, we’ve shipped over 1,400 as of January 2023,” says Hitchcock, adding that CWD is open to new sponsors of the program. When all is said and done, each award costs CWD about $25.  

Your request for a Journey Award invites you to share a brief story about your life with T1D, which CWD is in the process of organizing to share on their website. 

“The stories I read, they are the highlight of my day,” says Hitchcock. “I read one the other night from a man who said, ‘I’ve had type 1 for 31 years, I’m really struggling with burnout, I hope this remotivates me.’ I wrote him a personal note, hoping this recognition of all the days he’s lived with this disease shows the incredible accomplishment it is, and gives him the motivation to keep going.”  

Hitchcock recalled another story from a young woman with T1D who was once told she’d never be able to have children — but today she’s a mother of two. 

Five Decades with Type 1 Diabetes 

Being diagnosed with T1D in the 1950s, 60s, or 70s often included a warning from your doctor that your days are numbered, you may not live to see your 40th or 50th birthday. Fortunately, many people diagnosed in those years have proven those warnings wrong. 

Receiving requests for 50 and 75-year coins reminds Hitchcock how lucky his daughter is to be diagnosed in 1989. 

“By the time Marissa was diagnosed, her pediatrician told us, ‘Don’t worry, everything is going to be okay,’ because we could check her blood sugar and manage her insulin. Today, children with T1D can live as long as if they were never diagnosed — if they have access to insulin, testing supplies, and they participate daily in managing their disease.” 

You might request an award for someone else who’s living with T1D. 

“Sometimes I get requests from a parent with a child who is passing the 10-year mark with T1D, or a spouse whose partner just passed 25 years. There was one from a family for their grandfather who’s lived with type 1 for 50 years. They said he carried his award with him for days.” 

I’ll be celebrating 25 years this March! 

Personally, I’ll be celebrating 25 years of “showing T1D who’s boss” this coming March. Oddly enough, I’ve given myself emergency glucagon more times in the last six months than I have in the previous 24 years! (A reminder to anyone reading: fill your glucagon prescriptions! You truly never know when you might need it — even if you’ve only used it once in the past 24 years!) 

But I remember my diagnosis like it was yesterday — and how terrible my body felt in the days and weeks leading up to it. Today, I must stop and really think about all the work, energy, concern, preparing, and reacting that I do on a daily basis to stay alive, to reach my goals, to be a parent, to be a partner, to even simply walk my dog!  

As someone who’s made a career out of learning about T1D (and sharing what I learn with others), I am still learning new things all the time! (Seriously, did you know there are actually six hormones your body doesn’t produce properly?) 

I just submitted my request for a Journey Award! (Hitchcock says he shipped it out this morning!) 

“It’s too special — it must continue.” 

“For those who’ve lived with type 1 day after day, you deserve the recognition. It’s pure good. This program must continue,” says Hitchcock. “And I’m very grateful that Lilly felt CWD could take this on and continue that mission. Anyone living with type 1 diabetes in the U.S. passing these milestones can be recognized.” 

As a parent of a child with T1D, and as a man who’s built his entire life around supporting families and individuals affected by this disease, Hitchcock knows that every single day requires effort, courage, and persistence. 

“The Journey Award,” says Hitchcock, “is really honoring that you stayed in the game.”