Anna Tiedeman Irwin and Elizabeth Kramer know what it’s like to be a protective older sister. Both women grew up with brothers who have type 1 diabetes; Tiedeman with her brother Andy and Kramer with David. This sibling bond inspired them to start the annual Dodging Diabetes® dodgeball tournament to raise money for diabetes research. The tournament will be held for the ninth time on Sunday, March 9 in Maryland.
Growing up, these two women saw their brothers manage their diabetes, and as Tiedeman says “they’ve both done a beautiful job.”
“When he came back from the hospital with the diagnoses of type 1 diabetes it was such a shock.” Tiedeman recalls of her brother’s diagnoses at just age thirteen. “Watching him take his blood sugar and watching him go through high school and college and these times that are tough for anyone to go through, and then on top of that it’s like going on some crazy diet that you can’t ever go off, and there are serious implications if you take a mis-step one way or the other. It’s a lot of pressure to put on somebody’s shoulders.”
With the strong bond of both their brothers having diabetes, Tiedeman and Kramer teamed up in 2005 to start the Dodging Diabetes® charity dodge ball tournament. They started the event with three goals in mind: to raise money for diabetes research, to have a fun and inclusive event, and to raise awareness about what it means to live with type 1 diabetes. At the time of the event, the popular movie “Dodgeball” had just come out, and this certainly influenced the type of event the duo wanted to hold.
“It was so quirky and out there and at the time it was a sport that you played in the third grade and was getting banned because of bullying. No one played doge ball at that time! We thought it would be fun to hold a dodge ball tournament because it’s quirky and not a typical run or walk. We didn’t want to do something that everybody had already been doing,” says Tiedeman of the tournament’s beginnings. From this, a community of people united by their love of dodge ball and the fight against type 1 diabetes was born.
One hundred percent of the proceeds from the Dodging Diabetes® event are donated towards the research, care and prevention of type 1 diabetes. This year, the event will be raising funds for both Joslin Diabetes Center and the JDRF.
“Both Andy and David have had fantastic care from Joslin doctors. We know that Joslin has always been at the forefront of diabetes research and we support what they’re doing. We think they are going to be part of the solution that we will get to, to knock out type 1 diabetes and really come up with a cure” said Tiedeman.