Blue Fridays: What Does Blue Mean to Cherise Shockley?
It’s the first Blue Friday of Diabetes Awareness Month! Who better to kick-off our “Blue Fridays: What does blue mean to you?” series than the woman who started it all, Cherise Shockley? Cherise is the mastermind behind the popular Diabetes Social Media Advocacy (DSMA) Twitter chats and podcasts, and I’m thrilled to share a few of the many new projects she has in the works.
Q: Can you start by telling us how DSMA has evolved since we featured you last November?
A: There are actually quite a few exciting changes. DSMA is now a program under our new non-profit organization, Diabetes Community Advocacy Foundation. People have been asking me about creating a non-profit ever since I started the DSMA chats, so when DSMA turned two, I was sitting at the computer and thought, “I’m going to do this!” I went to the website that day and by the following Monday I received an email saying we were approved. Now, we are a non-profit in the state of Indiana! We are putting the paperwork together to file for a 501(c)(3).
Additionally, DSMA Live has expanded. In July of this year we added “DSMA en Vivo” a bi-weekly podcast for people impacted by diabetes in the Hispanic Community. There are two hosts, Christina “Kiki” Rodríguez with type 1 and Beatriz Domínguez with type 2, and they talk about topics of interest from their standpoint and the Hispanic community.
Then in August “DSMA Live: Parents Talk” was created because we saw parents in the DSMA Twitter chat quite often. So we thought it would be great to be able to have that conversation in a podcast format with parents that understand. Whether you’re a parent with diabetes or a parent of a child with diabetes, you now have somewhere to talk. I chose the hosts of DSMA Live: Parents Talk, Bennet Dunlap and Lorraine Sisto, because they’re both passionate about diabetes awareness and have children living with diabetes.
Q: Blue Fridays are now being celebrated every Friday throughout the year. Why did you decide to expand the original concept beyond November?
A: The original idea behind Blue Fridays was an inexpensive way for people to spread awareness and celebrate World Diabetes Day. After World Diabetes Day and Diabetes Awareness Month were over, people kept saying they wished they could continue to wear blue. So my thought process was that if everyone feels like they’re united by wearing blue on Fridays; why not make it every Friday? That way if Joe is having a bad day with his diabetes on Thursday, he’ll know that when he gets up on Friday morning there’s a lot of people wearing blue right along with him.
I’d like to encourage people to wear blue and upload photos to our Blue Fridays Facebook page every Friday, but especially Fridays in November because they may be eligible to win a prize.
Q: In addition to Blue Fridays, what diabetes-related activities will you be participating in this November?
A: We’re going to have a sixteen-hour World Diabetes Day Twitter chat from 6:30 a.m. EST to 9 p.m. EST. We have people from Australia, South Africa and the U.K. participating. Each host will moderate the chat for an hour and come up with his/her own topic and questions. The world will be brought together for sixteen hours to talk exclusively about diabetes. You can find more information on DSMA’s website including: the time, moderator and topic. Participants can follow along and join in the conversation by following the moderator scheduled during the hour and using the hashtag #WDDChat12.
Q: Why has the diabetes community become such an important part of your life?
A: For the first three years after my diagnosis, it was just me. I tried to find as much information as I could, but there wasn’t much available. And then I found the diabetes online community (DOC) and it changed my world. Because of that, I always put community first. If I can help just one person; it’s priceless. It’s amazing to see people from all different walks of life come together once a week, or to wear blue; that’s what keeps me going. There are no limits.
I believe we’re put in places for a reason, and I believe my mission in life is to help people. As crazy as this may sound, diabetes is more of a blessing in that aspect because if I didn’t have diabetes, I wouldn’t be able to help as many people living with diabetes as I can now.
Q: Finally, we know blue comes from the International Diabetes Federation’s blue circle which is the universal symbol for diabetes, so what does blue mean to you?
A: Blue to me means unity. Blue to me means community. Blue to me means family. That’s why I stand behind the blue circle. It’s community. It’s everybody.
Additionally, I’d like to thank the International Diabetes Federation for taking the time to create a global symbol for diabetes. No matter what type of diabetes you have, you have the blue circle and its unity.
Cherise never ceases to amaze me. She wears her passion on her sleeve and the way she’s able to bring people together with her community-driven programs is remarkable. Thanks to Cherise for taking the time to discuss these great initiatives. I’m excited to see what’s next for her and the Diabetes Community Advocacy Foundation.
Happy Blue Friday,
Disclosure: Cherise Shockley received no compensation for this post. All opinions contained in this post reflect those of the interviewee, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates.