About the Sisterhood of Diabetes

Don’t be fooled by the name “sisterhood”.  This website is not only about female athletes with diabetes.  It  encompasses everyone with diabetes, family members, friends as well as being a springboard for inspriation, motivation, information and interest for all who are here with me right now.

It started out as a source of information for my book (my very first book) The Sisterhood of Diabetes: Facing Challenges & Living Dreams and has grown into, well a potpourri of life. You’ll find stories, recipes, events, videos, links, a blog, book reviews, interviews and diabetes news.

You are welcome to comment at diabetesnotvation@gmail.com.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Keep moving forward with a smile on your face and 99bg’s,


T1 , 51 years

The Pioneers

  • Paula Harper:  founder of International Diabetic Athletes Association, has run 35 marathons, biked and hiked to bring awareness of exercise to diabetes care
  • Arlene Scholer:  pied piper of diabetic hikers and snow sports
  • Patricia Ruhl Kehs:  gardener, artist and walker at ninety-three

            Our pioneers are those who lead the way.  They set examples.  They motivate us to do better.  They inspire us with hope and the stuff of dreams.  They are kindling spirits.  They are our prime movers.  Paula, Arlene, and Pat are unique pioneer women in exercise and diabetes.

Forty years ago, Paula Harper, as a young mother of thee, nurse and student was at a loss for finding answers about exercise and diabetes. She decided to become her own diabetes exercise manager.  She began to find others with diabetes in the same boat.  It was the beginning of a movement to put exercise in the forefront of diabetes care and the launching of the International Diabetic Athletes Association.

            Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1964 Arlene Scholer did the best she could by implementing the latest technology of the time to control her diabetes.  But it was in 1977 that the exercise epiphany hit her during a hike in the mountains.  She has been climbing uphill ever since and inspiring others with diabetes to trek along with her.

When Pat Kehs was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at age eighty-four she became determined to beat it by going out and walking her way to good health.  At ninety-four she remains an active trooper and inspiration.


The Pros

  • Monique Hanley:  Australian pro Veladrome and track racing cyclist, raced with Team Type 1 in ’07 and ‘08
  • Missy Foy:  pro 50- mile ultra-marathon champion and doctoral candidate
  • Leanne Stanley: Canadian world class paddler
  • Shaakira Hassell:  pro-basketball player turned pro-football player and college athletic coach
  • Carly Ludwig:  Type 1 pro-golfer at twenty three

The devotion to reach the professional level of a sport requires single mindedness of purpose and gut wrenching passion.  The women in this chapter have proven they’ve got what it takes to surge forward and attain goals set by many __ but achieved by few. 

Monique is a cyclist who has put her life on the line time and again because of her sheer determination to be the best.  Missy is legendary in the running world and holds world championship records in fifty-mile runs.  Leanne paddles global waters in competitions to collect bronze, silver and gold medals.  Shaakira is blessed with the height of a basketball player, the strength of a football player and the willpower to go pro with both.  Carly’s golf swings have such agility and precision that they wonher pro-status.

Sporting for the Sport of it

  • Camille Izlar:  equestrian and diabetes educator
  • Emily Iannello:  Buffalo ice hockey engineer
  • Ulrike Thrum:  German soccer player, competitive runner, author
  • Mary Mantei:  from a goal of 2 miles this runner completed 197 miles

It is said there is an athlete within each of us.  The degree of what to do with this athlete differs from person to person.  The women in this chapter demonstrate how they found sports they love and how being dedicated to playing them also became a great tool in diabetes care.

 Camille’s childhood love of horses led her to become an equestrian for life.  Her diabetes influenced her career and becoming a runner as well.  For Buffalo born Emily ice hockey was in her DNA as a fan, player and coach.  Ulrike has run, biked and played serious soccer with gusto and leadership in places near and far. Mary was a late comer to sports and a late comer to Type 1 diabetes but through willpower and determination she met her goals in both.

Strength and Power Inside Outside

  • Jen Henson:  Canadian wrestler and outdoor adventurer
  • Ginger Vieira:  Vermont State Champion power lifter and author
  • Melissa Prichard:  posing diabetes with bodybuilding

These gals are astonishing!  They participate in sports that few people with diabetes would venture into.  They combine powerful and demanding physical vigor with mental strength to achieve success in their sports and impressive careers. 

Jen wrestled her way through high school and university.  Ginger‘s poise in lifting four hundred pound weights is something to behold.  Melissa’s career in bodybuilding proves that __got diabetes _you can build your body into championship form.

Exploring Life’s Summit

  • Lisa Seaman: climbs mountains and claims their beauty with stunning photography
  • Nikki Wallis:  rescues in Snowdonia Mountain, Wales and climbs the world’s highest peaks
  • Suzi Vietti:  runs, climbs rocks and flies airplanes

Is it nature that calls or nurture that comes from within that makes one passionate about climbing the highest mountains in the world or flying like a butterfly in the sky?  You can decide when you read the stories of Nikki, Lisa and Suzi. Lisa climbs, treks and takes beautiful photos of her journeys. Nikki is a mountaineer from Waleswho loves to take on challenges in nature and life.  Wait until you read about all the fascinating goals Suzi sets for herself despite some pretty tough obstacles along the way.  She flies right through the challenges.

Overcoming Type 2 and Pre-diabetes

  • Catherine Schuller:  pre-diabetes and Diva-betic
  • Rose Scovel:  moving from a walk to a jog to a full out run
  • Audrey Finklestein: the mogul who movesMany of the athletes in this book live with Type 1 diabetes and stand up to meet its challenges and demands.  But there are other types of diabetes as well.Catherine has a condition called pre-diabetes and treats it with all the tools necessary for it not to develop into Type 2 diabetes.  Rose is a poster child for the active Type 2 as she continuously faces it head on as a determined athlete.  Audrey is vigilant about incorporating daily exercise into her very busy days with the background knowledge that her MODY condition must be addressed with awareness to keep her immune system in good shape.                                 

Body, Mind and Diabetes

  • Zippora Karz:  former soloist ballerina with New York City ballet
  • Dana Hariton:  spins like a dervish, stretches like a Giselle
  • Melitta Rorty:  yoga yogi

There is a vast panorama of exercise and sport possibilities.  To reach a high level of mental and physical fitness one must be agile.  In this chapter you will meet women who have trained their bodies with discipline of precision movement.

Zippora worked tirelessly for many years to perform in the demanding world of professional ballet.  Dana’s ability to flex and bend has been the power that lies behind her stamina and success to run marathons.  Melitta can stand on her shoulders, head, bend and twist in the highest levels of yoga.

Diabetes in the Wilderness and the Water

  • Chloe Steepe:  from trampolines to kayaks, founder of Connected In Motion
  • Monica Priore:  Italy’s prima swimmer and Type 1 mentor for children

Some athletes perform with great success in their sport.  But then there are those who do more than that __ besides strength, dedication, a sense of competition   __ there is purpose.  Chloe created a not-for-profit organization in Canada that you will want to join when you read about it.  Monica has become a household name in Italybecause of the attention she brings as a role model for children with diabetes through competitive swimming. 

Endurance Makes Them Do It

  • Sarah Faust:  100 miles in the desert as a starter
  • Joy Carr:  turning fear into a marathon
  • Emily Cheung:  the Paris Marathon and chocolate cake
  • Heidi Jane Humphries:  New Zealand kiwi Iron man again and again
  • Niclole Marcelin:   dragon boats to Mt. Everest

Call then crazy, but look at what they have done!  It might start out as training for a 10K run but these gals have all gone beyond the pail with their brilliant athletic achievements as PWD’s (people with diabetes).  Sarah climbs her bicycle through hills and desert heat.  Joy has tiptoed from initial fears through the challenges of completing triathlons.  Emily set her goals and worked hard at making them happen in Paris.  Heidi continuously expands her life as an athlete with diabetes into encouraging others to do the same.  Nicole is a perpetual motion woman who has the mindset and control of diabetes to try whatever call to arms comes along. 

Artists and Academics

  • Dr. Sheri Colberg-Ochs:  professor, author, publisher, mother and athlete
  • Brandy Barnes:  founder of www.diabetessisters.org and exercise enthusiast
  • Blair Ryan:  run or bike, the longer the distance the faster she goes and makes movies to inspire others

The women in this chapter are such accomplished high achievers that they will surely motivate you to step up your goals. They are to be admired for many reasons especially for what they contribute to the diabetes community in inspiration and awareness. 

          Any question about diabetes and exercise that you might have Sheri is bound to have the appropriate detailed answer.  Brandy found her place in the diabetes community when she created the not for profit organization Diabetes Sisters.  Blair combines high level sports achievements with creative endeavors in film and media all grounded in the diabetes community.

The Upcoming Inspiration Generation

  • Chelsea Brown: she sails and dances across diabetes
  • Swati Nerula:  Ivy League rower and diabetes youth advocate
  • Ashley Napear: she swings the bat with power on the softball field.
  • Molly Read:  she makes the calls on the basketball court and on her diabetes
  • Makyla Sever:  eight year old Canadian JDRF emissary and Ringette champ
  • Jenny Vandevelde:  the ultimate California jock of all sports
  • Kayley Wolf:  plays and coaches basketball at the Chris Dudley Camp
  • Elise Zevitz:  remember this name when she becomes first female diabetic to summit Mt. Everest.
  • Mallory Zorman:  Don’t close your eyes or you’ll miss Mallory speed skate by

There is always inspiration to be gleaned from youth and this chapter fills us with hope and great joy.  Each of these young women lives her life with confidence and power showing the world that diabetes is never a deterrent to making dreams come true. 

Chelsea has the beauty and buoyancy of a dancer.  Svati charges us with the desire to go for the gold in life.  Ashley reminds us of the influence good diabetes education can have in setting life goals.  Molly brings discipline to her sports through discipline in her diabetes.  Makyla is on her way to fame and fortune with her incredible zest for life.  Jenny goes overboard with energy and her celebration as an athlete with diabetes.  Kayley uses her influence and experience with basketball to find path ways to her future. Elise’s power of concentration and purpose will help her reach the top of the world for sure and Mallory grows into a terrific athlete and role model for girls with her achievements on the ice and in diabetes.