03 Feb Darren
I was diagnosed with T1D at age 12 after experiencing the typical symptoms that most of us are aware of: extreme dehydration, frequent bathroom visits, and very low energy. I remember when doing an annual mile run for gym class, I noticed my mile time was about 3 minutes slower than the year before and wondered what was happening to me. I started peeing the bed at night too which was scary and unusual since I wasn’t prone to it before. My parents had the good sense to take my symptoms seriously, listen to what I was saying, and take me to the doctor where I was diagnosed. It was completely unexpected and new for my family because none of my relatives have T1D, and being in such a small community we didn’t know anybody with it. We spent the next few days at the hospital in Burlington, VT learning about how to manage Diabetes and then we went home to begin this new way of life that had an impact on everybody in my family.
When put into words, this story sounds pretty dismal, but actually the reality was not as bad for me, owing in large part to the people in my life. I am fortunate to be very close with my amazing family, my mom, dad, sister, and brother, each of whom helped me whenever they could, and made it so that I have been able to live a happy, normal life. That has been the most important thing that has come from my diagnosis; by surrounding myself with great people and an engaging community who are willing to help, it makes Diabetes not so bad for the most part.
One way in which this support benefited me was through my high school soccer career. I had many great experiences watching my sister play and playing on a team with my brother. I don’t mean to brag but I scored 34 goals my senior year, which was the second highest on record for our school (first place goes to my brother the year before, with 42). The understanding shown by my teammates, coach, and fans was excellent and that made the frequent trips to the sideline for a juicebox much less awkward. I eventually started using maple syrup because it was so accessible for me and more concentrated in carbohydrates than juice.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of things that I love: soccer as mentioned above and maple in any form (syrup, sugar, cream, candy). A lot of my childhood and life so far has been spent playing soccer and spending time with my family members in their various maple farming ventures. My passion for soccer and maple continued into my college program for business, where I started to brainstorm ideas on how to put this knowledge to use and combine these two passions.
During my business degree, particularly during my internship for my sister at Ackermann Maple Farm, I began to develop my idea further. I knew that maple cream is more condensed than straight maple syrup (which is actually the only ingredient in maple cream) and with a bit of experimenting I could create a great product that would help me as an athlete who sometimes suffers from low blood sugar episodes. It was after my work at the internship that I founded Maple Rise and dedicated myself to making blood sugar booster products. My goal was to get this product into the hands of people who suffer from low blood sugar episodes, athletes who need an energy boost, and anybody who just wants a sweet treat.