"My name is Tonya Fuhrmann. I was born and raised in Helena MT. When I was 10, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. At first, I had the usual symptoms, frequent urination, weight loss, and dehydration. I spent 2 days in the hospital learning about diabetes and how to manage my newly diagnosed disease. That summer I went to my first Type 1 diabetes camp. It was one of the best summers I ever had. I was at a camp full of kids that all dealt with the same issues I did, and I felt so accepted and understood.
Going to camp became an annual thing, and I couldn’t wait to see my friends from everywhere across Montana every time I attended. I still have these people in my life today and keep up to date on them via social media. Having diabetes is hard, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I have met some of the strongest, bravest, and smartest people throughout my life with diabetes. For the past 20 years, I have been a counselor at camp, and have watched so many kids grow and learn to manage their diabetes. They have created successful lives, families, and careers, and it has been incredibly rewarding.
So, I thought, "what can I do more to help?" This year, I decided I wanted to create something that will last forever for these kids and their families. I met my friend Karen Giesy who is active in several other nonprofits and whose grandson was diagnosed last year. She gave me insight and helped get the Montana Youth Diabetes Alliance started, and here we are! We have camp 2021 set up and we are working diligently with an amazing group of people to host the only Type 1 diabetes camp in Montana, starting in 2021. Kids and families with diabetes need so much support and we want to be here for them when they do. Montana Youth Diabetes Alliance is a 501C3 organization that started in 2019 to fulfill the unmet needs of the Montana Type 1 diabetes community. Our mission is to enrich the lives of youth with Type 1 diabetes and their families, by offering safe, fun, and educational opportunities through camps and other events, providing financial assistance for out of pocket expenses associated with self-management supplies, and networking resources to navigate diabetes-related support systems.
I have had this dream for years and it is coming true now. I am beyond excited about this new adventure and so excited to be able to provide Montana’s families with the support they deserve. The camp is going to live on, kids will continue to make amazing summer camp memories, and they will continue to learn and grow with the support of the Montana Youth Diabetes Alliance."
President of MYDA