Nashville singer/songwriter Crystal Bowersox visited Fort Mill on Sunday to meet with children who live with Type 1 diabetes.
Camp KUDOS (Kids Understanding Diabetes with Our Support) is a day camp for children 4 years old to eighth grade with Type 1 diabetes. For the past few years the camp, which is in its 24th year, has been hosted at Nation Ford High School.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease also known as juvenile diabetes. Type 1 means the pancreas produces little to no insulin, the hormone needed to allow cells to process sugar and turn it into energy.
Bowersox, 33, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 6 years old.
She has been performing since she was 10 and was a contestant on the ninth season of “American Idol.” Bowersox has worked with artists such as the late Joe Cocker and BB King, Alanis Morrisette, Jakob Dylan, John Popper of Blues Traveler and Melissa Etheridge, according to her bio.
The northwest Ohio native visited Camp KUDOS Sunday as an ambassador for the Lilly Diabetes Camp Care Package program, which provides scholarships, insulin, inspirational speakers and supplies for camps for children with diabetes.
Bowersox sang for the participants and shared her story of living with Type 1 diabetes.
“It’s a daily balancing act ... some days it’s difficult to manage, but these kids are here learning how to do that well and making friends that they will have for life,” Bowersox said. “I just want to share my story with them and show them that you can follow your dreams no matter what.”
Madison Williams, 17, travels from Delaware to Fort Mill each summer to take part in the camp.
The camp is staffed with nurses, dieticians, doctors and counselors and allows the children to have fun while maintaining their blood sugar levels, said Mandy Goode, clinical coordinator. For three days, participants do activities and learn how to manage their diabetes.
Goode was a camp participant as a child and now serves as a camp counselor.
Williams said the camp is a great way to bring awareness to Type 1 diabetes and to help people who live with it.
“People are so young with diabetes that people are not aware of it,” she said.
Williams was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2000 at 7 years old.
At Camp KUDOS, every camper and most of the counselors also live with Type 1, Goode said. From Friday to Sunday, participants played laser tag, had fun at a carnival and heard from guest speakers who shared their stories of living with diabetes.
“It really let the kids know that they can do anything they put their minds to; that diabetes isn’t going to stop them from anything,” Goode said.