Remember this little one from our earlier Meet the gTeam post?
You may have already met. At a gTea. A tradeshow. A Ducks game. But if not …
Please say hello to
(There’s a lot to be learned about a person from an interview. But when you stick to a formula just for the sake of consistency, the opportunity for truth and genuine story-sharing dwindles. Michelle provided the interview answers as requested, but then I pushed her for more. Because anyone that knows Michelle in real life knows that T1D plays as big a role in her world as Tom Hanks’ role in Forrest Gump. And so that’s where we will begin our introduction.)
“My ultimate passion is my two boys, but honestly, who’s children aren’t? Two years ago, however, my passion became much more specific as our world seemed to fall apart with Keagan’s type 1 diabetes diagnosis. It’s impossible to describe how it feels when hearing your child will never live a ‘normal’ life, forever a slave to medicine and health care. I can’t express in words the gut-wrenching pit and the sob that escaped my lips as we rushed off to an extended hospital stay. However, that time passed and we survived; just passing the two year-mark with his dia-birthday, a day we celebrate, instead of grieve, recognizing how far he (we) have all come.
We’ve been fortunate, having met so many many incredible and amazing people on this journey, people who are now family to us (both old and new friends) — all no doubt absolutely meant to be in our life, even it had to be only because of a T1D connection. Most importantly, we’ve met a family, the Kamaka’alas, who are now closer than most blood family because they, too, wake every 2 hours (or more) to test their child, understand the importance of a good cry (and a good drink!) with someone who really ‘gets’ the daily anxiety and celebrations, and also has a child in whom Keagan has found his hero (how many meet their hero when they are only 5-years-old?!).
The Kamaka’alas are also owners of not one, but five!, diabetic alert dogs, whom we fondly call DADs, that they have so graciously allowed us to borrow on rotation since last Thanksgiving. These dogs are more than a resource to help us manage Keagan’s diabetes. They have become a source of therapy, comfort, and a friend to all who interact with them as they impress and amaze with their incredible smell and sense of responsibility for both Keagan and Hayden. My desire in life is to now find a way to give a DAD to every child who needs one. No matter the financial limitations or other barriers. I have seen a change in Keagan as these dogs give him a sense of pride for his T1D. Pride. Who would have ever thought he’d embrace his auto-immune disease with such vigor and acceptance thanks to an animal? We want every child to have this blessing, so in our spare time (ha!), we are starting a non-profit to bring life to our passion, Medical K9 Heroes. We hope through the generous partnership with a local, obstacle course race, Epic Grind, to be able to ‘open our doors’ this fall in order to successfully increase independence and enrich the lives of Type 1 Diabetics and their family members. By providing training and support throughout our journey together, our mission will be to promote a more effective disease management plan. And build a community we can all lean upon and look to for support and resources.”
If you’d like to support Michelle’s cause, please register to participate in the Epic Grind Race: http://epic-grind.com/
And for more information on Medical K9 Heroes: http://www.medicalk9heroes.com/
Retail & Marketing Director, with gDiapers since 2006.
“I began my journey at ‘g’ over 7 years ago in customer service, moving into Marketing to manage the gMum program, events and materials (and so forth), and now finding great energy managing retail partners, as well as our marketing programs at Babies R’ Us and Target.”
If you weren’t working for gDiapers, what would you imagine you would be doing instead?
“I’d be embracing every caregiver of a T1D child — and the child, too, of course! Or embracing my anger to completely disrupt the current dysfunctional (or insert another more colorful word here!) health care system of America.”
If you had to choose just one g word to wear as a personal statement, what would it be and why?
“My ‘g’ is gratitude. Regardless of the many struggles, fears and hardships, I still know I’m blessed. Very blessed.”
You used to manage the gMum program. And you were amazing at it and cultivated a brand community like no other on earth. What were the highlights of managing the gMum program? What were the biggest challenges?
“Hands down, the absolute highlight of this community, was meeting so many incredibly strong, beautiful (inside and out), fun and genuine women. I strongly believe, without a doubt, that many, if not all, of these women were intended to come into my life for whatever the reason may be. I’m forever grateful it was a diaper (a diaper!) that caused our paths to cross. I was inspired, challenged, loved and angered, and grew so much both personally and professionally through these relationships. Some of my mentors and biggest role models are past and current gMums and I truly cannot imagine my life without them. How lucky am I to have been taught by over 8,000 mamas over six years? I can’t imagine ever being able to have that experience at any other job or through any other capacity in my life. Thank you to all of you who were or are gMums/Dads — and for all that you taught and gave me!
It’s difficult to care for people and a program so deeply and not eventually lose one’s clarity, boundaries and creativity. The recent hand off to Doe was the best thing to ever happen to this community and I cannot wait to see what the next chapter holds.”
What do you see on the horizon for gDiapers as a company and a brand?
“I see an amazing, innovative new story and product….change, growth and a lot of fun times are literally peeking just around the corner.”
Where do you want to grow? And what are you doing to make that growth happen?
“Ah, the list is too long! I see growth everywhere in my life right now. The biggest obstacle for this growth to happen is conquering fear, my biggest nemesis.”
Share something that brings you joy. A drawing, a video, a photo, a song. You name it.
” ‘Hey, Soul Sister’, by Train, brings me absolute joy and tears to my eyes. I cannot hear that song without instinctively glancing in my rearview mirror expecting to see both Kynton and Keagan’s smiling faces and hearing their little voices booming out of tune.”
about the author Kelli Martinelli– Kelli has been with gDiapers since its infancy in 2006. She writes the gDiapers blog, email campaigns, web content, manages social media and customer service and supports PR. She occasionally takes a stab at her own blog It’s Me, Kelli, where she chronicles her waste reduction efforts and her stories as a single mama to two kiddos. Stay in touch on the gDiapers blog, google + and twitter.