A WPMQ SPECIAL FEATURE STORY
Brandon Broady Tackles Type 1 Diabetes
By Lizzie Hill and Sara Abell
Brandon Broady, a sophomore student athlete at Charlestown High School, manages school, three sports, and Type 1 diabetes (T1D). It isn’t every day that a student is dedicated to three sports and equally plays them well. It’s even more rare to find a student who does this and manages an autoimmune disease that could greatly impact his health.
Brandon was diagnosed with T1D in 2017. He first noticed his symptoms when his appetite changed and he began to drink excessive amounts of water. When he first learned of his diagnosis, he was curious because he didn’t really know anything about the disease. Type 1 diabetes is a genetic condition in which the pancreas creates little to no insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to allow sugar to enter cells in order to produce energy. This affects blood sugar levels and can cause hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia, which are both an influx in blood sugar levels. Both of these effects can have a devastating impact on one’s body and if blood sugar levels aren’t controlled this can lead to other illnesses, including death. Blood sugar levels have a direct impact on strength, speed, stamina, and flexibility. It is important that athletes with diabetes keep a close eye on their health to reach optimal performance.
Brandon has had his hands on a baseball since the age of 3, picked up basketball in 3rd grade, and rounded out his sports with tennis in 6th grade. Playing sports is an important part of Brandon’s life and he won’t let any diagnosis stop him from accomplishing his goals. Type 1 diabetes can have a wide range of effects on one’s performance during various sports so Brandon makes sure to keep a close eye on managing his condition in order to continue physical activities. When active in sports, Brandon tries to balance his blood sugar levels as best as he can in order to reach peak performance with an app on his phone and by human nature. He can easily tell if his blood sugar levels are off because he begins to feel tired, which would be an obvious negative effect to a three-sport athlete like Brandon. His go-to snacks to help his blood sugar levels are peanut butter crackers and Gatorade. He says it’s not scary because he has gotten used to it and it’s just a normal part of his life that he has learned to manage.
With the diabetes have come some opportunities for Brandon. He serves as a youth ambassador for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). JDRF has led the search for a cure for T1D since its founding in 1970. And just this week he got to listen to a speech by the Big 10 Baseball Coach of the Year, Jeff Mercer, from Indiana University Bloomington talk about playing ball and it really made Brandon feel good to hear him say that he is willing to work with and help those with some type of disability or impairment.
Brandon says, “ Type 1 diabetes has inspired me to be more healthy because of the consequences it can have on your body later in life.” Managing Type 1 diabetes and keeping up with sports can be hard, but Brandon has proved it’s achievable. He goes on to tell other athletes to,“Stay strong and keep ahead of the game.”