Fraternity takes up diabetes cause

By Meghan Hendrickson

Living with type 1 diabetes is not a chosen lifestyle, but it is one that cannot be ignored.

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 3, associate professor of sociology Dr. Kevin Dougherty shared about the hardships he faced growing up with a chronic disease during “Juvenile Diabetes: Its Impact and Race for a Cure”, a public lecture at the Bill Daniel Student Center Wednesday night.

“I remember [when I was 3 years old] my mom sitting me on the kitchen table, and I could tell she had been crying, and she looks right at me and she says you’re going to have to go on a special diet,” Dougherty said. “But I don’t want you to worry because Mommy’s going to do it with you.”

The lecture was sponsored by Delta Epsilon Psi, a South Asian interest fraternity, to raise awareness about JDRF (formerly Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), the fraternity’s chosen philanthropy.

This was the fraternity’s second annual lecture about diabetes. Delta Epsilon Psi donated $5,000 to JDRF at the lecture.

Kristen Pool, a Waco JDRF representative who came to kick-off the evening’s event, said JDRF uses donations to accomplish three things: to successfully treat, prevent and ultimately find a cure for type 1 diabetes.

Dougherty was asked to share his story by fraternity members who had heard him discuss his disease in his Introduction to Sociology course. At the start of Dougherty’s class he always informs that he has diabetes.

“You’ll never hear me say the word diabetic, I hate that word,” Dougherty said. “I am not a disease. I am a person with diabetes. I refuse to use that as an adjective attached to me.”

Dougherty said he would like to be known not for his disease, but for drinking strong coffee, interacting with students and colleagues, loving pets and being kind to his three daughters.

He encouraged anyone who knows someone with either type 1 or 2 diabetes to refrain from letting a disease define that individual.

There are an estimated 26 million Americans who suffer from diabetes, but only five percent of those suffer from type 1 diabetes, the other 95 percent suffer from type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is often diagnosed in children whose body basically attacks their pancreas and causes the organ to stop producing the insulin their body needs to convert food to energy.

Type 2 diabetes is a result of lifestyle choices that usually develops in adults who are overweight and have high blood sugar.

Dougherty encourages those with diabetes to take ownership of their disease early because if diabetes is left untreated, the guaranteed complications include: blindness, amputation, kidney failure and premature death.

“With the rampant spread of obesity in our society the rates of diabetes are skyrocketing,” Dougherty said.

The eight-active-member fraternity was able to raise the $5,000 for JDRF through their two main fundraising events, “The Sugar-Free Bowl” flag football tournament in the fall and the “Who’s Got Game” three-on-three charity basketball tournament they hosted later in the spring semester.

Dallas junior Azaan Ramani, vice president of Delta Epsilon Psi, said the Baylor chapter made JDRF their chosen philanthropy after their brother from a different chapter who had suffered from type 1 diabetes was killed in a boating accident about a decade ago.

Ramani was drawn to the fraternity’s sense of brotherhood his first semester at Baylor. “I wanted to be a part of the brotherhood and have that support., ”

Dallas senior Navjot Singh, president of Delta Epsilon Psi, enjoyed Dougherty’s presentation and said he is a great advocate for diabetes because of how comfortable he is with the disease now.

“I didn’t realize how abnormal one with diabetes feels,” Singh said. “It’s a disease that infects them all day long and I didn’t realize that.”

Dallas-based Mumtaz catered free Indian food for all who attended the lecture.