Welcome to Will Epperson's Page!
Hello and Welcome!
Thank you so much for visiting my page!
I enjoyed working with AYUDA so much last year that I am volunteering with them again in 2016! I'll be traveling to the Dominican Republic as a volunteer with AYUDA once again to motivate young people with diabetes, like myself, to live happier, healthier lives. Last year's programs could not have taken place without everyone's support and donations so I cannot thank everyone enough! To see a summary of last year's program and some pictures, please click on the link at the bottom of the page.
Below you can learn a little more about what AYUDA is, my life with diabetes, my interest with volunteering with AYUDA, and how you can help support our mission at AYUDA.
What is AYUDA?
AYUDA is a non-profit volunteer organization that empowers youth to serve as agents of change in diabetes communities around the world. AYUDA is dedicated to supporting local diabetes communities in their development and implementation of sustainable and global diabetes programs. AYUDA’s innovative peer learning model uses international volunteers as catalysts to empower local youth living with diabetes to live happy and healthy lives.
AYUDA is guided by 3 main principles:
In the Dominican Republic, AYUDA is working with a local organization called Apendiendo a Vivir to help educate local youth with diabetes about how to properly manage their diabetes through things like a healthy diet and exercise. AYUDA hopes to provide these young people with the skills and knowledge necessary so that diabetes is simply a part of their lives and does not rule their lives.
For more info about AYUDA and their work, please visit their site (http://www.ayudainc.net).
My Life with Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition that involves the immune system attacking and destroying beta cells in a person’s pancreas. These beta cells normally produce the hormone insulin, which is integral in the process of breaking down nutrients in food. People with diabetes, therefore, must administer their own insulin (usually through shots or an insulin pump) and check their blood sugar regularly in order to keep it regulated. For a more in depth look at diabetes, WedMD has a great explanation (http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/guide/type-1-diabetes).
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 4, and since I am currently 16, I have been living with diabetes for 12 years. I consider myself lucky to have been diagnosed at such a young age because I have grown up with diabetes and I was able to learn at a young age that diabetes is simply a small part of my life, and is not my whole life. By doing things like monitoring my blood sugar and exercising regularly, I am able to stay healthy and active.
Why I am volunteering
Growing up as a diabetic in the United States, I have been fortunate enough to have access to great health care and education and the supplies necessary to easily treat my diabetes. However, 4 out of 5 people with diabetes live in low or middle income countries (LMIC) and do not have easy access to the education or resources necessary to easily treat their diabetes.
I am volunteering with AYUDA because I believe that their guiding principle of “a lack of education is as dangerous as a lack of insulin” could not be more true. I hope to support and contribute to their mission of providing diabetes education to youth in the Dominican Republic.
As a volunteer this summer, I will work in the Dominican Republic for almost a month with AYUDA's local partner organization, Apendiendo a Vivir. Together, we will organize programs for young people with diabetes to promote youth leadership and motivate young people with diabetes to lead healthier and happier lives. This year, I am a volunteer mentor in training which means that I will participate in more of the planning and recruitment for AYUDA's programs as well.
Working with AYUDA last year has positively impacted my life on numerous levels. It has given me the opportunity to help others learn about a condition that I have personally lived with for numerous years and create positive change in their lives. It has given me the opportunity to immerse myself in a foreign culture with incredible people. And it has allowed me to connect with smart, driven, and cool people from across the country. For these reasons and more, I am working with AYUDA again this year.
How you can help
AYUDA endeavors to remain a grassroots volunteer organization in a unique way: by asking its volunteers to participate in fundraising for their programs. In fact, fundraising by volunteers helps cover the majority of the costs to run AYUDA’s programs and sponsor local diabetes projects.
Therefore, I need your help. Please help me reach my fundraising goal of $7000 by June 14th. Every contribution helps fund AYUDA’s goal of educating and empowering youth in the Dominican Republic. Your support will ensure that local diabetes programs will continue to thrive and that young people in these communities will have access to education and tools that will help them live happier, healthier lives with diabetes. Whatever you can give will help - it all adds up!
If you prefer to donate online, you can click on the orange button at the top of the page to donate. You can also physically send your contribution to the address listed below.
To mail in a donation, please make all checks payable to “AYUDA Inc.” and please put my name in the Memo field.
AYUDA Inc, 1700 N Moore St, Suite 2000, Arlington VA 22209
Thank you so much for your support and as AYUDA’s motto goes,
¡Juntos Somos Mas Fuertes!
Together We Are Stronger!
Last Year's Program:
To see a summary of my trip and pictures from last year please visit: https://willeppayuda2015.wordpress.com
Update from Campo Amigo:
¡Hola! Today we're wrapping up our Campo Amigo program and starting to get ready for En El Camino. In the past weeks we've done things like worked at the foundation, visited homes in San Cristobal and San pedro, and had two successful weekends of camp. For me, one of the most impactful moments thus far has been the opportunity to get to know one of the campers from San Pedro, Roberto. We visited Roberto's home as a group and he showed us how he manages his diabetes with minial insulin injections and no kit for testing. After our home visit, Roberto and his mother came to camp this past weekend. Although shy at first, Roberto slowly started to open up as we continued to play pick up basketball. I enjoyed meeting Roberto because he showed me resilence in the face of adversity. Despite his lack of access to resources as basic as a glucometer, Roberto does not let his diabetes hold him back.
My Personal Web Log
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