Courtney Young’s life was turned upside-down when her son, Chase, was diagnosed with type one diabetes at the age of three. She and her family started raising money almost two years ago to fight diabetes and eventually formed the CHASE Away Diabetes Foundation.
What made you come up with the idea to raise awareness about diabetes in the community?
It was Chase’s idea.
It was Chase’s idea?
Yeah, for his 4th birthday, he wanted to have a dance-a-thon. We had just watched the news and saw something about a school that did the same thing. He wanted to do it just like the school but only have Michael Jackson music and give the money to kids with diabetes. We did that and raised almost $2,000 and it went to the American Diabetes Association. He wanted to do the same thing the next year but wanted it outside, with Michael Jackson music and bigger.
On your website you wrote that a doctor told you, “Either someone has passed this on or this is just bad luck.” That’s such a powerful phrase. How did you react to that statement?
That whole moment is a big blur. When I took him to the hospital and told them what was going on, they rushed us to the back. Looking back on it, I know in their heads they knew he had diabetes. The doctor who was attending to us was a resident and wasn’t as compassionate as he could have been. Basically, he was like, “Oh well he has to get over it.” I don’t look at it anymore as bad luck. At first I kept asking, “Why my kid?”
How did you explain to a three-year-old that he has diabetes?
I didn’t at all. I never even really thought about that because he knew something was wrong when we were in the hospital. As he has gotten older, I’ve been able to let him know more about what is going on. He’s able to explain it to others even to a point where the parents of the kids in his class will send me emails about their kids knowing more about diabetes then anyone in the world. Even his teachers say he’s very knowledgeable. I was concerned at first how the parents would feel about him checking his sugar. Surprisingly, parents and teachers wanted to know what they could do in order to help. This has kind of drawn everyone closer.
What do you do to raise awareness apart from birthday parties?
The other project I’m working on is with a guy I met from Apple, who is allowing me to use their briefing room so I can host an event for all the Center City restaurants to get them on our radar and find out how I can be of assistance to get accurate nutritional guides in restaurants. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only mother who takes their child with diabetes out to eat.
You were recently recognized in your congressional district for CHASE Diabetes. How did Councilman Kenyatta Johnson learn about your program?
He lives in the neighborhood and I asked him to stop by on Instagram to show support. He goes to my mom’s church but I didn’t make that connection with him before. He thought what I was doing was amazing and told me to let him know whenever I’m doing something. Someone from his office called and they already had stuff and connections for me. They called me before the Community Day and said they wanted to honor me. I was so caught off-guard that the award was for me. It feels good to be appreciated.
– Text and images by Greta Iverson and Christasia Wilson.