Raising Diabetes Awareness

Raising Diabetes Awareness

Benjamin Hoffman is on two tours at the same time with stops in Rockville and Pasadena, Calif.

A sophomore at Churchill High, the Potomac resident plays drums for Panic System, a rock band that will perform as part of the MHStival at Magruder High School on Saturday, June 21.

But Benjamin's other tour does not require him to travel to Pasadena in person — instead, he will be represented by a three-foot-by-three-foot quilt square that will soon be on display with the entire Children With Diabetes Quilt for Life in the Rose Bowl on July 21. Benjamin has Type I (insulin-dependent) diabetes.

Benjamin's part of the quilt was sent from the family home this week to California. It will join the larger quilt on tour.

“It’s similar to the AIDS Quilt,” said Carole Hoffman, Benjamin’s mother, who made the quilt. “It’s being put together by parents of children with diabetes.”

The quilt will be displayed in conjunction with the National Children with Diabetes Conference July 17-21, and will be the first-ever display of the entire quilt.

BENJAMIN HAD plenty of things on his mind last week, typical concerns for a high school student. He was studying for a history final, and had the Panic System concert approaching.

“We cover a lot of U2 songs, and do some Green Day songs,” said Benjamin. “But we write a lot of our own music, too.”

In addition to music, he plays baseball and basketball, and the quilt depicts him playing both sports.

During the school year he also volunteers for Potomac Adaptive Sports, a sports program for youth and young adults with disabilities.

Is diabetes something he’s often thinking about?

“Not really, because I’ve had it for so long,” said Benjamin.

He was diagnosed with diabetes six years ago at the age of eight. At the time, the family was living abroad in Russia where treatment for diabetes is in short supply.

“It’s just something that blows you away,” said Carole Hoff-man. “It takes a long time to get past the tears with this disease.”

Benjamin's diabetes type is a potent form of the disease, but he benefits from an insulin pump that enables him to eat and sleep normally.

“One you’re on insulin, you look like any kid, and you can act like any kid,” said Carole Hoffman.

THE HOFFMAN'S QUILT square consists of nine panels, most depicting his main interests: music, sports and travel. The lower left panel lists his name, date of birth and date of diagnosis, a convention for the Quilt for Life.

One panel shows Benjamin in Australia, a souvenir of his first trip abroad since he began using the insulin pump in February 2001.

There is another section showing Benjamin on the drums, and the centerpiece is a childhood picture of him on the beach.

“I’ll see it on TV, and that will be pretty cool,” says Benjamin of the forthcoming display of the Quilt for Life.