Sam Fuld’s Grand Slam for Fellow Diabetes Patients
Advocacy The Oakland A's outfielder is committed to motivating young patients, offering an annual sports camp that both educates and inspires.
When he was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 10, Sam Fuld didn't quite know what he was up against. “I really didn't know anything about it,” the 34-year-old Stanford alum recalls. “My uncle had a cat with diabetes. I was so naïve, I didn't really have any expectations, good or bad.”
A different world
Fuld, who began his baseball career by twice batting .600 in high school and was ranked 19th in the country by Baseball America, says times have changed since he first got the news from his doctor.
“I was pretty much alone and fighting the battle by myself, except for my family and medical staff. There weren't any blogs or Twitter handles I could follow. Today there are certainly other outlets to help provide support.”
“'There's always a piece of your mind worried about your glucose levels. The mental and emotional challenge is the hardest part.'”
Learning his numbers
Through the years, "Super Sam" has experienced his share of ups and downs, but overall, his A1C levels have been good thanks to a disciplined approach. “I was pretty independent with it right away,” he says. “I credit my parents with giving me the freedom to handle it on my own.”
That's not to say the journey has been easy: “There's always a piece of your mind worried about your glucose levels. The mental and emotional challenge is the hardest part.”
Fuld refuses to let his condition affect his performance on the field. “I'll check even more regularly when I'm playing,” he adds, “to make sure my blood sugars are staying at the right level. But, knock on wood, it's really been a non-issue.”
A team player
Fuld is a firm believer in giving back. The annual Sam Fuld USF Diabetes Sports Camp at the University of South Florida allows youngsters to participate in various sports during the first weekend of February. Type 1 diabetic athletes serve as coaches.
“I want to relay the message they can lead a normal life,” says Fuld. “It's one of the coolest things I've ever done.” Fuld has also partnered with the nonprofit SLAMDiabetes. The group's wiffleball tournaments provide awareness and raise funds for children to attend camps that help build confidence in managing the disease.
Currently recovering from a shoulder injury, Fuld is looking forward, and believes other diabetics should be, as well. “Just know,” he advises, “as long as you're diligent about regulating your glucose levels and staying on top of it, you can achieve the goals you set up prior to diagnosis.”