A Shared Mission

Connie and Darren

Connie Skinner and Darren Bishop went their separate ways after high school, as many childhood friends do. The two had spent many school years as classmates and many summers as swim teammates, but their interaction inevitably diminished as the years went on.

Connie had learned of her ten-year-old daughter’s diagnosis of type 1 diabetes (T1D) before Darren even began a family. Connie’s daughter Kiki faced her condition head-on, jumping into an ambassador role at JDRF and staying active in basketball, volleyball and softball. Now 16, Kiki is part of a leadership program at a Camp Hertko Hollow, a camp in Iowa for kids with diabetes.

While Connie was helping Kiki adjust to life with T1D, Darren was busy getting married and welcoming his three children, including a son named Hunter.

After checking her Facebook page one day last year, Connie read the following message from her childhood friend:

“Looks like we will be seeing you on February 16!! Our boy, Hunter (4-years-old) was diagnosed with T1D on November 19!  Jenna and I had a tough time dealing with this at first, but things are getting better! Connie, I have always thought you were pretty awesome, BUT this was NOT a club that you belong to that I wanted to join!!”

Connie knew just what it felt like to be in Darren’s position; it had been her child with a new diagnosis only a few years ago.

Her reply to Darren read:

“Bless your heart! Hunter will be just fine! Likely healthier than all his friends and will no doubt be your hero as Kiki is ours! Kiki is happy to watch him if you ever need a break. I know it is overwhelming, it still is for us sometimes, but it has made us better people. I’m so glad you will be at the WALK, but if you want to get together before, just say the word. I’m here for you and Jenna! Much love, Connie”

This message would be the beginning of a new chapter in Connie and Darren’s friendship. The two had been brought together by a shared obstacle, and they would become partners in working to defeat it.

As Connie and Darren connected with even more of their classmates whose children live with T1D, they realized how small the world really is. It became clear that almost everyone is touched by T1D, whether personally or through a friend or family member.

Connie and Darren want everyone to understand that by supporting JDRF, you are helping to improve the lives of countless people around you. You may not be aware of every T1D connection in your life, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

To get involved in JDRF’s mission to cure, treat and prevent T1D, email greateriowa@jdrf.org.