By: Spencer Faulkes
Every year Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) has a kickoff for the Walk to Cure Diabetes team Captains. The kickoffs are meant to be fun and I always like going. Last year the big talk was that there was going to be a Green Bay Packer at the Kickoff. I am a huge football fan especially of the Packers, so I was really excited!
That day I met my good, good friend Mr. Tom Crabtree. I was just as excited to meet his wife Chelsea. She was amazing! She was the very 1st adult that I ever met with Type 1 diabetes and she was so cool. I had a lot of questions for her and she took her time listening and answering every question. Mr. Crabtree did a speech. After his speech people could ask him questions. I asked him who he thought was tougher him, for being a pro football player or Chelsea for living with type 1 diabetes. He said Chelsea right away. I agreed. After people were done asking him questions mostly about football I went up to the microphone again and told to him that I have diabetes, do you have any questions for me. He did.
Tom Crabtree talked to me. he asked me questions. He listened to me. He cared! I became his biggest fan that day! Type 1 is a very difficult disease to live with. You need a whole team to help stay healthy. I could tell that Tom was an amazing teammate. I knew he was a great teammate on the football field too. He is a good blocker and does all of the work that people might not even notice. Its a lot like the work my mom and dad do to take care of me and my diabetes. He also makes big, amazing, game changing plays. He does whatever he needs to do to be a great teammate and that is amazing!
I will continue to be Tom Crabtrees biggest fan. I will always support him and Chelsea, no matter who he plays for… even if he would ever end up a Chicago Bear! I am a fan of Tom and Chelsea Crabtree. Tom Crabtree is a great football player and an even better guy! I look up to him as a role model not because he’s a big famous football guy but because he is the type of guy I want to be like.
I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes on January 1, 2009. I have done the Walk to Cure Diabetes in Green Bay every year since. This disease really stinks and this is my way of helping find my own cure. Every year my team Steppin For Spence has raised between $6,000 and $10,000. I have always had about 80 people walk on my team to help support me.
This year Tom Crabtree can’t walk in the Green Bay walk because he has to be in Tampa Bay for Buccaneer business. He told me that even though he can’t be at the walk he still wants to support JDRF and me in finding the cure. I designed a walk shirt this year that says “Tackling Diabetes Together” on the front and Steppin’ For Spence and Tom Crabtree #84 on the back. It was my way of showing Tom that even though he wasn’t physically at the walk, he was there in my heart.
Tom did something super cool for me. He put his Public Relations Coordinator Alex in touch with me and gave me the opportunity to put Steppin’ For Spence on a bigger scale. The more publicity my disease gets, the better chance we can find my cure!! And that is so cool.
So far my Public Relations adventure has been quite an experience. I have been in touch with some awesome people and I have learned a lot! I got to consult with an artist at Lands‘ End on my t-shirt design. She gave me great feedback on my shirt! It was great to be able to ask for advice from someone who actually knew about the clothing business. I also was in touch with Greg Bedard, NFL writer for The Boston Globe. He gave me great pointers on what I could do to improve my writing skills.
I have also been in touch with Kelly Schutz at the Tampa Bay Public Relations department so they could sign off on my shirt idea and color scheme. It was very important to have Tom’s new employer happy too. This disease and Walk is even more important than Football…. and that is hard for a lot of people to understand. You would think that it would be a tough decision for a Packer Fan to choose Buccaneers colors over Green and Gold, but I never even thought about it. I wanted to represent Tom Crabtree. Tom and Chelsea Crabtree are bigger than football to me!!
The absolute coolest thing that I have been able to do through this PR adventure is I get to go on Tom Crabtree’s farewell Clubhouse Live show to promote Steppin For Spence and bring awareness to my disease. My dream when I grow up is… 1st to no longer have Type 1 diabetes but my dream job is to be a host a on TV or radio show. This is one of the coolest things I have ever have gotten to do. I am so excited and one of the best parts is I got to sit next to Tom Crabtree!!
Through this PR adventure I have learned many lessons. I have learned not to be afraid to ask for help. I have learned to make sure everyone on your team is on the same page. In this adventure, just like in football or any thing in life, practice and preparation make for the greatest outcome.
I have always been taught that priorities in life are Faith, Family, Friends….and then Football! I have Faith that someday my cure will be found. I am thankful for my family and all they do to help take care of me and keep me healthy. I am blessed to have great friends and blessed for their love and support, especially the support they give to Steppin For Spence. And I am beyond blessed to have met and become good friends with Tom and Chelsea Crabree. And then as in life….there is Football! JDRF and I are blessed for the Awareness that Professional Football has given to finding a cure for Diabetes. With the public awareness from Green Bay Packer and Tampa Bay Buccaneer players, especially Tom Crabtree, I know that I will find my cure.
Spencer C. Faulkes
Follow Spencer on Twitter: @FaulkesS