Raising Awareness on Type 1 Diabetes
Written by Debbie George, Founder of EASE T1D Organization | September 20, 2018
When Corona Firefighter Eric Estes had his blood drawn for his job last year he was surprised to see his
fasting blood sugar level come back at 293. Although Eric had noticed symptoms of Diabetes he didn’t
give it much thought. After all, he’s always helping others and didn’t think that he might be the one in
need of help.
When Eric received his result he immediately took out his medic box to check his blood glucose level,
the meter read “High.” Eric went to the ER and was given fluids, 2 units of Insulin, and a prescription for
oral medication. He was told he had “Type 2 Diabetes.” Eric was then told to go see his primary doctor
which he did. Eric’s primary doctor gave him long acting Insulin and also confirmed he had Type 2
After a week of continued high blood sugar levels and spikes after meals, Eric being a Paramedic, knew
he had Type 1 Diabetes, he diagnosed himself! Once Eric went on fast acting Insulin his bg levels
dropped and he now has an A1C of 5.2! Awesome job Eric!
This is just one of many stories we hear about of being misdiagnosed simply because you’re an adult!
We MUST change the public’s perception of Type 1 Diabetes being a childhood disease. So much
AWARENESS and EDUCATION is needed. This is why we at EASE T1D get out in our community and
inform people that Diabetes is NOT a single disease!
We thank Eric for sharing his story with us and for helping us raise awareness to T1D! Please share his
story and help us raise awareness.
*Type 1 Diabetes is a chronic life-threatening autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas
produces little to no Insulin. It can be diagnosed at any age but is usually diagnosed from infancy to the
late thirties and lasts a lifetime. Type 1 Diabetes has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle, is not
preventable, not reversible, requires insulin dependency, and has no cure at this time.
Fire Captain Matt Kearney, Paving the Way While Inspiring Others
By Debbie George, Founder of EASE T1D Organization | September 10, 2018
When Fire Captain Matt Kearney was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of twelve, his family
didn’t know much about the autoimmune disease. Matt had been wetting the bed and falling asleep in
class. His father told a co-worker who had Type 1 Diabetes about his son’s symptoms and he suggested
he get him checked out. Matt saw his Pediatrician who confirmed he had Type 1 Diabetes.
Matt had always been an active child and he wasn’t going to let his diagnosis slow him down. Heavy
into off-road racing both car and motorcycle, Matt thought he would pursue a career in racing someday.
However, after two bad crashes, Matt started to think twice about his racing career. It was on the ride
to the hospital in a fire ambulance that sparked his interest in thinking a career in fire service may be the
way to go and, after all, it was his number one job recommendation in high school!
Matt soon became a volunteer firefighter at his local fire station and attended his local fire academy
where he graduated second in his class in 2007. Matt however, was met with some challenges that he
had to overcome. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in 2007 did not recommend people
with Type 1 Diabetes to be in fire service activities, and the California DMV states if you have T1D you
cannot drive an ambulance. Matt was unable initially to get his ambulance driving certificate so he went
and worked for a basic life support ambulance company as the emergency medical technician in the
back. After several months of determination and grit Matt received his ambulance driving certificate
from the Department of Motor Vehicles where he went and started working for his local advance life
support ambulance company. Matt then went to Paramedic school and worked as a Paramedic on an
ambulance for an additional two years.
In 2012 Matt was hired by the third fire department he applied for, Palm Springs, which is his
hometown. With much hard work and perseverance, Matt was promoted to Fire Captain this past June,
2018! Matt’s wife, Amy, had the honor of pinning him with the Captain badge. We congratulate him on
this great achievement! Matt is truly a role model for others to follow… never let Type 1 Diabetes stop
you from pursuing your dreams or achieving your goals.
It’s not surprising Matt made Fire Captain in such a short time, he has always strived to push himself to
go beyond his best and that includes his physical capabilities.
Matt has accomplished many physical endurance races and events including the Stagecoach 400, a
challenging non-supportive bike-packing race that travels through a mosaic of contrasting landscapes
taking riders from remote mountains through a seemingly endless desert, into the city, and along the
sea. This grueling ride is 400 miles and took Matt 72-hours, non-stop! Matt finished 11 th out of 90
participants. WELL DONE!! Amy shares the same passion for the outdoors, in 2013 they hiked the John
Muir Trail, a trail that that starts in Yosemite and travels South to Mount Whitney. It took them 21 non-
stop days; an experience Matt describes as “life-changing” which I can only imagine!
Being one who helps others, Matt had the opportunity to share with his Endocrinologist, Dr. Gaja
Andzel, who also has T1D, that he follows a low carbohydrate diet and has had great results, his last A1c
was 5.0. Not too many fluctuations with highs and lows like many people with Diabetes experience. Dr.
Andzel had been struggling with her sugar fluctuations despite her great A1C of 6.2. She decided to give
the low carbohydrate diet a try and has had fantastic results. Within two months she had stabilized her
blood sugar fluctuations as well as transforming her health. Dr. Andzel is now recommending the diet to
her patients and has started a weekly class at her clinic to teach others.
Matt and Dr. Andzel started a local Facebook group two years ago called Low Carb Talk IE to help inspire
others to transform their health. In the two years since inception, they have helped countless people
with Type 2 Diabetes get off their medication which is great news!
Speaking with Matt certainly inspired me to persevere in our mission to raise public awareness on Type
1 Diabetes and to continue to touch lives and help others when we can. Oh, and did I mention, Matt
coaches the high school mountain bike team, as well as being a fire instructor for the local fire academy.
I’m pretty sure any parent whose child is on the bike team and has T1D is going to be pretty happy they
have Matt as a coach!
We appreciate Matt sharing his inspiring story with us. Keep being amazing Matt, we appreciate all you
Raising Awareness of Type 1 Diabetes
By Debbie George, Founder of EASE T1D Organization | October 10, 2017
Type 1 Diabetes is a chronic, autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas produces little to no
insulin leaving a person insulin dependent for life. It cannot be prevented and can affect anyone. Unlike
Type 2 Diabetes, Type 1 Diabetes is not related to diet or exercise. Alarmingly, Type 1 Diabetes is on the
rise, according to a study that examined the prevalence of diabetes in the United States’ pediatric
population from 2002–13. That study found an increase of almost 60 percent during that time period.
There is currently no cure.
For those living with the condition, Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) affects every aspect of life. It is a careful
balancing act of food, exercise, and insulin, as well as a number of additional factors. Too much insulin
can cause a low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and should be treated immediately with glucose. Not
enough insulin can cause a high blood sugar (hyperglycemia), which often starts slowly, but can lead to a
medical emergency if not treated with insulin.
The Corona-Norco Unified School District has made raising awareness about Type 1 Diabetes a priority.
The district is educating students and staff about the symptoms, which are often mistaken for a virus,
and include extreme thirst, frequent urination, weakness/fatigue, and weight loss. Last November,
Corona-Norco USD partnered with the PADRE Foundation, a Type 1 Diabetes nonprofit organization, to
present an educational program about diabetes at two school sites, Citrus Hills Intermediate and
Santiago High schools. The PADRE Foundation’s presentations use Youth Leaders who have T1D to
educate school communities about the ways living with the disease affects their daily lives, and the
challenges they face managing T1D.
Erica Holguin, a teacher at Santiago High School, was happy to see the school participate. "Raising
awareness in schools about Type 1 Diabetes is important because it mainly affects children and teens.
We have 22 T1D students currently at my school,” she said. “If our students know the signs and
symptoms of T1D, hyper/hypoglycemia, and what to do to help ... they could potentially save a life!
Raising awareness will also bring understanding and compassion and help end the stereotypes and
bullying that comes to students who are different.”
Corona-Norco USD has also helped raise awareness through the dissemination of T1D educational flyers
to all K-6 schools and educational posters to all 50 health clerk/nurse offices, as well as posting the
information on school websites.
EASE T1D, an organization dedicated to spreading awareness about Type 1 Diabetes., recommends the
following steps to raise awareness about the disease this November, National Diabetes Awareness
Month: post educational flyers at school sites and on websites; hang awareness banners; include T1D
facts in school communications, such as school newsletters and PA morning announcements; and wear
blue, the official color designated to bring awareness to the disease, on Fridays in November and on
November 14, World Diabetes Day.
Raising awareness about this life-threatening disease can save lives and foster understanding in school
communities. On behalf of EASE T1D, I thank you for the opportunity to share our mission of raising
awareness about Type 1 Diabetes and hope to see every school site participate this November!
EASE T1D: www.easet1d.org
Beyond Type 1: www.beyondtype1.org
Study: Prevalence of Diabetes and Diabetic Nephropathy in a Large U.S. Commercially
Insured Pediatric Population, 2002–2013, American Diabetes Association:
Debbie George is the mother of a son with Type 1 Diabetes who was diagnosed at the age of 2, and
Founder of EASE T1D, which stands for Education, Awareness, Support, Empowerment on Type 1
Diabetes. Since her son’s diagnosis, she has made it her mission to raise awareness about the disease
and its symptoms.