Live. Work. Play: Kaylee’s Diabetes Story

Working for the American Diabetes Association® means making a difference for millions of people and working toward a future free of diabetes and all its burdens.

We all have a story to share. Some of us live with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes or prediabetes. Others have loved ones with the disease or have lost someone to the fight.

The following are personal stories from the Association’s staff about why we are so committed to the mission to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes.

Kaylee Gronau
Associate Manager, Development
Phoenix, Arizona

Kaylee, Blake and Morgan at a reunion ,12 years after meeting.

Kaylee, Blake and Morgan at a reunion ,12 years after meeting.

My adventure with the American Diabetes Association began when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on Nov. 4, 1996, less than a month after my seventh birthday. My parents reached out to the organization, which provided resources and support for managing diabetes at home and school. This was especially important, as my diagnosis was in the middle of the school year. We soon discovered the Association had even more to offer a child new to diabetes, including Diabetes Camp!

Now let us fast-forward to the summer of 1997. I was signed up for my first year at Camp Needlepoint in Hudson, Wis. My parents cried the first time I went off to camp; they didn’t want to leave me alone. It was my first sleepover camp and my first time away from them—the first time someone else would help me with my diabetes. I, however, was very excited about the possibilities of developing new friendships and learning from my counselors. I learned so much from my camp friends and counselors, such as taking insulin shots in places besides my stomach, and got better at carb counting.

At camp, I began what has become a 20-year journey of lifelong friendships, memories
and a passion to work for the organization that was—in all senses of the word—a lifeline for me and my family. Camp Needlepoint is where I started to make lifelong friendships. I was a camper until I was 18 and then became a camp counselor (at Camp Needlepoint and Camp Sioux in North Dakota). Two of my best friends, Morgan and Blake, are a HUGE part of my life even though we live in different states (Minnesota, Utah and Arizona). We still get together every summer for at least one trip or weekend.

Camp is about creating a welcoming experience for kids with diabetes so they can create a bond with their fellow campers. It gives them the life-changing opportunity to be understood by those going through the same fight. This is why I was happy to develop such strong relationships with Morgan and Blake. Camp was also an opportunity to learn more about diabetes—and the possibility of working for the Association.

I now work for the Phoenix office on a variety of projects, including School Walk for Diabetes®, camp reunions at Step Out Walk to Stop Diabetes® and Tour de Cure,® and the Young Professional Leadership Council. I love our Diabetes Camp program and I hope to continue with the organization to someday become a camp director. When my schedule allows, I still return to Camp Needlepoint and Camp Sioux to help out as a counselor. It’s always a fulfilling experience to help kids learn more about managing their diabetes.

Working for the Association lets me connect with other staff and volunteers who have the same ambition. It gives me the opportunity to share my story and hear the stories of others fighting the same battle. Sometimes I get a message from a former camper asking me about my job and how he or she can follow the same path I did. It is the best feeling to hear from young adults who are just as committed to following their dreams.

My experiences growing up with camp will always be the memories that shaped me to be so passionate about this cause.

I would never wish diabetes on anyone, but it is a blessing to know the Association has given us all the opportunity to connect with others. I will forever be grateful for its support from beginning to end. The Association staff and volunteers have become my family.

And this Nov. 4, I will celebrate 20 years of conquering diabetes, and I will do so in the best way possible: by participating in our local Step Out the following day! I will be marking the occasion with hundreds of people who all share my desire to STOP DIABETES.

To learn more about nationwide employment opportunities and life at the Association, please visit

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This entry was posted in About Us, Diabetes Camp, Family, Friends, Life with Diabetes, Staff Stories, Talking Type 1 and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Live. Work. Play: Kaylee’s Diabetes Story

  1. Pingback: Live. Work. Play: Kaylee’s Diabetes Story | American Diabetes Association

  2. Pingback: Live. Work. Play: Kaylee’s Diabetes Story | Gregg's Diabetes

  3. Wonderful that, I believe that help people with the same purpose and motivated only increase the chances of people with diabetes live better and with more joy.

  4. Michael says:

    It’s great to see that people have been bothering to find solutions that improve the lives of others.

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