Greetings to friends and fans of A Sweet Life! I’m Mollie Busby and I am married to Sean Busby, a professional backcountry snowboarder living with type 1 diabetes. I don’t have diabetes, myself, but I spend my days supporting Sean and running our nonprofit organization, Riding On Insulin.
Before I blog about the here and now, it’s important that I spend this first post explaining how Sean and I met. Our journey has had many twists and turns, and even now—after the engagement and the wedding and getting a nonprofit started in a rough economic climate, we’re continually amazed at how life brought us together to fulfill such a meaningful purpose for the diabetes community.
So, the story! Lets start at the beginning…
I nabbed a job immediately after graduating with my journalism degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I was stylish, I was savvy, and I was on top of the world as a successful style editor at a regional magazine in Madison, Wisconsin. I didn’t have a care in the world other than what outfit I would put together each day.
In February 2010, my life turned upside down. My colleague and dear friend, Michelle Page-Alswager, unexpectedly lost her son, Jesse Alswager—at age 13—from complications with type 1 diabetes. It was the first time death had touched my life at such close proximity. It was also the first time I stopped to actually consider the implications of living with a chronic disease. I knew nothing about T1D other than it could happen to kids, and there were people riding bikes to raise money for a cure.
Sitting there at the hospital, I contemplated my few, trivial meetings with the young boy. Having had such a demanding disease at such a young age, I knew Jesse was to be commended for taking each day in stride, while also serving as an advocate for diabetes. I made up my mind to honor Jesse’s life, but I wasn’t sure how.
Three days later, the answer sat right in front of me.
I was sitting in a pew at Jesse’s funeral, listening to a Dave Matthews song called “You and Me” play in the church. I remembered Michelle had told me that a few days before Jesse died that he begged her to download it. She obliged, and thus will forever hold a special affinity for the song. Once the service began, a young man in front of me stood and walked to the podium to give a eulogy. Sean Busby, a 25-year-old professional snowboarder with type 1 diabetes and a dear friend of Jesse’s, explained to the crowd how Jesse, even at age 13, had saved his life. After Sean was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 19, it was little Jesse (who loved snowboarding) that inspired Sean to continue his own snowboarding career. Jesse was Sean’s biggest fan, and Sean thought of him like a little brother. Jesse also inspired Sean to start Riding On Insulin, which he founded to host ski and snowboarding camps for kids with T1D. His goal was to show kids—similar to how Jesse showed him—that diabetes doesn’t have to limit anyone. Sean explained that Riding On Insulin had been on hold recently due to professional commitments, but he was determined to start it up again in Jesse’s honor.
I was moved to tears.
That evening, a group of us went out to dinner to celebrate Jesse’s life. Sean and I hit it off, and began an unexpected relationship that grew into love faster than either of us imagined possible. Five months later, I moved across the country to be closer to him, and on March 15th, 2011—just over a year after we’d met—Sean got down on one knee and proposed to me in Iceland at Godafoss, “Waterfall of the Gods.” The song that shuffled onto my iPod after the proposal? “You and Me,” by Dave Matthews—a reminder that Jesse is ever-present in our lives.
During the short time we’ve been together, Sean and I have fulfilled each of our goals we set after Jesse died—I, honoring Jesse’s life, and Sean, restarting Riding On Insulin for Jesse. Riding On Insulin is now a promising 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation with over 15 camps planned for the 2012/2013 season. The organization is seeing incredible support in five countries, and we couldn’t be more hopeful for the future.
We have been fortunate to have continual reminders that Jesse is watching over us, helping to guide us on our journey. After our engagement in March, we discovered that, unbeknownst to us, we had planned our wedding for September 24th, 2011—a date that would have been Jesse’s 15th birthday.
That day I walked down the aisle to one of Jesse’s other favorite songs: Don’t Stop Believing, by Journey. It’s an anthem that finds its way into our lives at the most unexpected moments—in a restaurant, in a waiting room, in the car on the way to a Riding On Insulin camp. Rather than chalk it up to coincidence, Sean and I embrace the circumstance and nod to Jesse, thanking him for sticking by our side.
The past two and a half years have been one whirlwind of change for me. Sean and I keep friends and family on their toes with each new adventure we pursue, from driving a vegetable oil-powered motorhome to Alaska, to honeymooning in Bulgaria and Romania, to hosting Riding On Insulin camps in 5 different countries. Life hasn’t slowed down since Jesse brought us together, and above all else, we continually remind ourselves to never stop believing in what we do. That’s what Jesse would have wanted, and we couldn’t imagine life any other way.
Mollie Busby writes a lifestyle/adventure blog called The Mollie Shambeau Show.