During the month leading up to November 14th, World Diabetes Day, you can participate in the Big Blue Test, one of the leading diabetes advocacy events of the year. When you take part in the Big Blue Test, not only do help yourself, you help others living with diabetes.
Not sure what the Big Blue Test is?
The Big Blue Test was created in 2010 by Manny Hernandez, founder and president of the Diabetes Hands Foundation (DHF), with the goal of emphasizing the importance of exercise for people with diabetes, while providing funding to diabetes-related charities. Manny and his team have created inspirational videos each year to encourage participation.
The Big Blue test participants are invited to test their blood sugar, exercise for 14-20 minutes, test again, and record their results on www.BigBlueTest.org. Most participants in the Big Blue Test experience an average blood sugar drop of 20% each time they take the Big Blue Test.
This year’s Big Blue Test, which kicked off yesterday, has the same inspirational message as always, but it’s some what different than the projects of 2010 and 2011. To start off, while the previous years’ tests involved some 10,000 participants. According to Manny, “The target expected number of entries this year is 20,000.” And for each of those first 20,000 entries, DHF will receive $5, for a total of $100,000. That money will then be re-granted among seven diabetes charities in the U.S., Haiti, Dominican Republic and Ecuador.
Who is donating the money to the Big Blue Test?
Roche Diabetes Care provides the donations that, through the DHF, will fund the following seven diabetes charities:
- Auxanomen Health Clinic at Parker Lane United Methodist Church in Austin, TX
- American Youth Understanding Diabetes Abroad, Inc. (AYUDA) for its work with the Pascua Yaqui tribe in Pima County, AZ
- DASH (Diabetes and Sports Health) Camps / LIFT-Levantaté in Oakland, CA
- Insulin for Life USA in Gainesville, FL
- University of Colorado, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in Aurora, CO
Fundación Aprendiendo a Vivir in Dominican Republic; and Fundación Diabetes Juvenil Ecuador in Ecuador, through American Youth Understanding Diabetes Abroad, Inc. (AYUDA)
Fondation Haitienne de Diabète et de Maladies Cardio-Vasculaires (FHADIMAC) in Haiti
But that’s not all that’s new in this year’s Big Blue Test. “This year there’s not just a single video. So far, we’ve produced five videos telling stories from last year,” says Manny.
“We are about to launch 5 more videos to complement the campaign,” he continues. “There will be, though, a main video which we’re super-proud of, that features a number of Big Blue Test video alumni and some famous names with diabetes.”
20,000 participants! That sounds like a lot, but Mike Lawson, Head of Experience at the DHF isn’t worried about meeting the goal. “The Diabetes Hands Foundation is incredibly aware of how powerful the diabetes online community (DOC) can be, and we’re trying really hard this year to make sure that it is easy for people to share their Big Blue Test experience with their online networks of friends,” he says. ”The DOC is really good at helping spread messages and causes that are genuinely helping people, and The Big Blue Test is one of those. Because of this, we expect the Big Blue Test to be wildly successful.”
The preparation for this grand event hasn’t been easy. Mike says, “The planning of a month-long event like Big Blue Test is pretty intricate. There are a lot of moving parts and it is almost like an elaborate juggling act. There are the obvious things that need to be planned out like our website construction. But then there are smaller moving parts that you might not realize are happening like trying to find a really diverse cast of people that have been touched by diabetes to show up to a film studio. We’re collecting Big Blue Test entries at a few JDRF walks around the country. We’re talking to reporters. We’re at community events. And when we’re not doing all of that, we’re tweeting (#bigbluetest) and using Instagram to share our own Big Blue Tests.”
After all of the hard work Manny, Mike, and others from the DHF have put into the Big Blue Test, the fun will take off now as the entries come in. You might expect Manny to be sitting at his computer all day clicking ‘refresh’ to see the results rolling in, but I suspect he’s doing a little more that that. I think he’s out there pushing for your participation.
For Manny the best part of the Big Blue Test is its impact, “what it does for the people who do it and what the people doing it are for others.” And in the long-term, he hopes to make the Big Blue Test synonymous with diabetes and exercise, empowering individuals around the world to help themselves while they help millions of people with diabetes in need. “This vision aligns with our most deeply held belief,” he says. ”That nobody touched by diabetes should ever feel alone.”
Jessica Apple is co-founder and editor-in-chief of ASweetLife. She writes the blog The Natural Diabetic.