Estevan's Doug and Pat Fergusson, along with their children Mark and Michelle, have been recognized for their commitment to the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA).
The Fergussons were presented with a National Volunteer of the Year Award during the CDA's annual awards banquet October 12 in Vancouver. The Fergussons have found many ways to promote awareness of diabetes in the community, and to help those battling the condition.
Doug and Mark both have Type 1 diabetes. Pat Fergusson said that the family turned to the CDA after Mark's diagnosis with Type 1.
"When you have a child … that has it at age three, when Mark was diagnosed, diabetes became very consuming," said Pat. "No decision could happen in the family without diabetes factoring right into everyday life."
The Fergussons attended a CDA family camp, and served as the host family for the family camp in 2005 and 2006. They realized that becoming involved and helping others was a good way to cope with the condition.
"We took a lousy situation and tried to make something better of it," said Pat.
Doug and Pat have both travelled to Ottawa for national events that promote advocacy, diabetes awareness and drug plans. Provincially, they have spoken to MLAs and other others to promote the Pumps for Kids program and to lobby for coverage for newer forms of insulin. Doug has also spoken at a provincial gala.
In the community, they try to host as many events as possible. Pat works publicly to host events and promote diabetes education in the community, while Doug works quietly behind the scenes.
Mark has spoken publicly on behalf of the association and other children living with diabetes, and Michelle helps out wherever she is needed.
Through their participation in regional advocacy, the Fergussons have been able to offer a voice for other families living with Type 1 diabetes, and bring awareness to issues facing people with diabetes in rural Saskatchewan.
"We enjoy getting out there and talking to other people," said Pat. "We still have stories to tell about what it's like to live with two folks in the house with Type 1 Diabetes, but with Mark in particular, because he's 13 and growing and ever-changing, there's lots to do yet in terms of getting him through the teenage years."
Pat said they were surprised when they found out they were chosen for the award. They wondered what set them apart from other dedicated CDA volunteers.
"It makes me think that the CDA is a really good organization to volunteer with, because they recognize the efforts that people put into it," said Pat.
Pat is looking for volunteers to be involved with the CDA locally. Networking and connecting with others for support are big parts of fighting the disease, she said.