Last year, I wrote an article about Christopher Thomas, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 27. Chris didn't let his diagnosis get in the way of his plans back then. He moved to New York City shortly after he was diagnosed and got started on the goals he had set for himself.
One of his goals was to start a website for people with diabetes. There are many sites devoted to diabetes on the web, but Chris had a different kind of website in mind. He wanted his website to more closely resemble a community, with reader participation and message boards. But more importantly, he wanted to gear his website towards raising funds for those who can't afford insulin, other medications and supplies.
He founded DiabeticRockstar.com and set about to make his dream a reality. His motto is "Fighting 4 Those Waiting 4 a Cure."
The website debuted in September, 2007. I decided to catch up with Chris one year later to see how he was doing and to check the progress of DiabeticRockstar.com.
When I logged on to check it out, I couldn't believe how the website has progressed. Chris says, "In January of '08 we had 40 members. Today there are over 1,100 members and it's growing everyday."
The website is set up like a social network. Potential members can sign up for free and talk to other members about any and all issues pertaining to diabetes. The format is similar to Facebook, in that members can design their own pages, and add photos.
But that's where the similarity to other websites ends. Diabetic Rockstar is also the home of the Fight It! fund raising campaign. How is Fight It! different from other fund raising websites? Fight It! is a different kind of fund raising idea. It gives the money right to the people who need it most.
Chris has a vision for Fight It. He says, "We're not raising money for a cure, we're helping people now with their immediate needs." Fight It! is a legitimate charity and DiabeticRockstar.com is the organization behind the "Fight It!" campaign, he explains.
People who visit the site are free to donate if they want to. How does the money get distributed? There is a page on the website where people who need assistance can go through a screening process. There are 15 questions to answer, to determine eligibility.
So far, DiabeticRockstar has helped about 20 people with supplies and insulin and has given away 300-400 free glucometers. "People don't always test themselves like they should, because they're trying to save money," Chris adds.
How does the website raise money? Besides donations, the website has sponsored concerts, DJ events, and even a Guitar Hero video game tournament. "There is a cover charge, we sell merchandise, and all money raised goes straight to the charity. Bands donate their time. We don't make a lot of money on these events, but the exposure helps put people in touch with others," Chris explains. "It's how we differ from other web-based organizations."
Chris has also introduced a mentoring program where people can volunteer to work with someone who’s newly diagnosed, or suffering from complications. About 100 people are involved it it, so far. The program also includes finding mentors for women who are at risk for, or have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Volunteer mentors can use phone or email to provide support.
Where would Chris like to be in 5 years? He would love to see Fight It! right up there with the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). In addition he envisions the website as a large community of people who support each other and who are proud of who they are and also proud to be diabetic.
Visit DiabeticRockstar.com (or better yet, become a member) and see what all the excitement is about. If you would like to donate to Fight It! go to DiabeticRockstar.com or write to Diabetic Rockstar, PO Box 20503, New York, NY 10021.