The Arcadia University men’s basketball team recently participated in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Walk to Cure Diabetes. This was meaningful to me because I have had type 1 diabetes since the summer of 2001. Although I have talked about life with type 1 diabetes on TV and the radio, I have never participated in the walk. Lately, I’ve been more focused when it comes to trying to stay involved in diabetes-related functions around Philadelphia and I remember hinting to my girlfriend that I wanted to join the walk.
She was definitely the catalyst for bringing this together. She went to the head basketball coach Justin Scott and told him that participating in the walk would be a good team bonding experience and very important to me. Coach Scott approached me later with the idea and I said that I was on board. Our goal was to raise $300, but we were able to surpass that easily with donations from teammates and family members. It meant a lot to me knowing that everyone had my back going into this event, although I was very anxious, because I’d rather not be the center of attention. I just hoped that the walk would be fun, especially since it was at nine in the morning on a Sunday, so everyone had to get up early.
The walk took place at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. As we made the trip from Glenside to Philadelphia in vans, I could feel the nerves in my stomach beginning to intensify. I was trying to meet up with my family as well as my girlfriend and her family, all while trying to stay with my teammates. When I finally met up with everyone, I felt like a host at a party having to make sure I kept everyone involved. The nerves dissipated once everyone was together, though, and I was finally was able to look around and see that the entire area was covered with people. There were trucks and food and tents set up for music—it was almost like a festival. I was really surprised how many people showed up. At one point, I heard an announcement that Philadelphia alone raised more than $2 million for the cause.
We ended up walking the five kilometers, and it seemed like everyone had fun. I felt very comfortable in that environment, knowing that everyone was there for the same cause and that those people affected by diabetes could relate to me on the same level. After all, the chance that you know someone affected by diabetes is high. I felt very optimistic coming out from the walk and I had several people ask me about participating again next year and if we’d have shirts made. It meant so much to me having some of my extended family come and having my Arcadia Knights family participate.
At the end of the event, the whole team walked up the museum steps and took a picture. We huddled together and my teammates broke out into a chant: “Joe Brown.” I felt like these guys are more than my teammates because I know they have my back.