Acclaimed singer-songwriter inspires kids with type 1 diabetes to pursue their dreams
Crystal Bowersox understands how crucial it is to find a healthy balance on and off the stage. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at age 6, Crystal — now 30 — reached the heights of American Idol in 2010 and maintains an ongoing musical career. Having nearly lost her spot on the show due to a short hospitalization brought on by the rigorous taping and rehearsal schedule, she vowed to make it her mission to touch others impacted by diabetes with her music and her message.
On Wednesday, July 20, Crystal will visit Camp Blue Hawk, a residential camp serving Oklahoma kids also growing up with T1D. Camp Blue Hawk is a project of Harold Hamm Diabetes Center–Children’s at the University of Oklahoma. This year’s five-day camp will serve 48 children ages 10 to 15 near Guthrie at the Central Christian Camp and Conference Center. Crystal will meet the campers, share her story, and perform briefly.
“Growing up with diabetes, I felt isolated from other kids because they didn’t understand the challenges I faced, and today I know there are many who experience the same things,” said Crystal. “However, despite the obstacles, I learned how to manage the disease, and I try to live my life to the fullest.”
Crystal’s grit and determination caught the eye of Lilly Diabetes, which today introduced her as its newest type 1 diabetes ambassador. Crystal’s visit to Camp Blue Hawk is part of the Lilly Camp Care Package program, one of the largest diabetes camp support programs in the United States.
Attending a diabetes summer camp can be a valuable experience for children learning to live with the disease, particularly those transitioning from parental care to self-care. A three-year survey by the American Diabetes Association® showed camp experience increases children’s diabetes knowledge, self-confidence, diabetes management and emotional well-being. Camps are especially valuable for newly diagnosed campers (less than one year since initial diagnosis) changed the most, with 19 percent showing improvement in their ability to manage diabetes-related issues.
Since finishing as first runner-up on Season 9 of American Idol, Crystal has released two full-length albums and two EPs, mostly featuring her own original songs. She has collaborated with Joe Cocker, B.B. King, Alanis Morissette, Jakob Dylan, John Popper of Blues Traveler, and Melissa Etheridge, among others. Originally from Northwest Ohio, Crystal now makes her home in Nashville.
Harold Hamm Diabetes Center (HHDC) is an OU Medicine Center of Excellence leading the way to prevent, treat, and ultimately find a cure for diabetes. HHDC–Children’s is the center’s pediatric division, housed in the OU Children’s Physicians building in Oklahoma City. This is Camp Blue Hawk’s second year; campers are invited by medical staff at HHDC–Children’s, and every camper attends on scholarship. www.haroldhamm.org