Every year, Gift of Hope searches for artists who live with diabetes or dedicate their work to people with diabetes. Proceeds from the catalog sales go directly toward diabetes research.
Last year, Gift of Hope featured a necklace designed by an 11 year old girl named Katie Ervin. Filled with symbolism for her view of living with diabetes, Katie’s Cure Necklace was the most popular gift item in Gift of Hope last year. I recently touched base with Katie, now 12, about her design and what it has meant for her to use her talent for the diabetes cause.
When were you diagnosed? What do you remember about your diagnosis?
I was diagnosed April 11, 2006. It changed my life forever. What I remember most is when my dad was on the phone with my doctor and the sound of his voice. I knew it was about me and something with the blood test I had a few hours earlier. I had been feeling funny for a while and I just knew there was something wrong with me. When the doctor called back I knew it wasn’t good news but I prepared myself for whatever was about to happen to me.
What inspired you to design a piece of jewelry for Gift of Hope?
Having diabetes is a pain and I don’t enjoy having it. I knew I wanted to do something to make a difference for diabetes. Fundraising was the best way for me to do that. I don’t want anyone else to go through what I have to go through every day, so making a piece of jewelry was the best way for me to raise money. I was hoping that the necklace would inspire others to do what they can to help fight this disease. This is my way of fighting diabetes. I know one person cannot make a big difference, but a group can make a huge difference.
Your necklace was incredibly popular when it first appeared in the Gift of Hope catalog last year – how does it make you feel to know that other people with diabetes are wearing something you designed?
It makes me feel that I did something right and that other people must feel the same way I do about the need to find a cure. It makes me proud that I designed something that is raising money for diabetes research. When I went to diabetes camp last summer, one of the girls in my cabin was wearing the necklace and it made me really happy.
Wow – that is really cool! I noticed that your necklace design integrates some very powerful words: Hope, Faith, Ambition, Research, Perseverance and Strength. Do you want to explain why you chose these words?
I choose those words because they describe what I need to survive each day at a time. I like to be positive about the whole diabetes thing, so to me those are the words I need to wake up to everyday to tell me that I can do this. Also, I think it explains the everyday life of people without diabetes or people with other diseases who just need a little push out of bed to make it through the day.
Very true! I have to admit, I spent a year seeing this necklace before I realized that the center circle is an insulin pump “O” ring. Very impressive and very subtle! What inspired you to do this?
The “O” ring is my way to include myself in my necklace, like it’s a piece of me. It’s a very important part of the necklace; it is part of what keeps me alive.
Wow again – you really did put some thought into this beautiful piece! Any plans to design more jewelry?
Absolutely, my goal is to have a whole collection of jewelry for diabetes someday. Not just necklaces, but bracelets and other things that will inspire people who are having a tough day or time in their life. It doesn’t matter who it inspires as long as it inspires one person; that’s enough for me.
I have no doubt your jewelry will do that. What do you want to be when you’re older? Do you have any career goals?
I want to be a doctor when I’m older. Not sure what kind of doctor, but some type of doctor. I want to have an impact on people’s lives, like the doctors who have helped me over the years. When people are sick, I want to be the one who can help them and, hopefully, make them better.
If you could tell the world one thing about diabetes, what would it be?
I would tell people not to let it run your life. You should be able to control your diabetes, not let your diabetes control you. People with diabetes can do almost everything everyone else can do, with the exception of taking a couple breaks to test and stuff, as long as you keep yourself healthy enough to be able to it. I try to stay positive and stay strong.
Despite her young age, Katie comes across as polished as her necklace. You can see the necklace in the online Gift of Hope catalog, or learn more about its Holiday Art Search.