My sister is a University of South Florida College Nursing student and when she told me that she was going to meet Sam Fuld and then go to the Tampa Bay Rays game, I knew I had to come along. Fuld was going to talk to the nursing students about his experience with type 1 diabetes so that the nurses will know more about it and know how to take care of a child with it. At 11 a.m. on April 4, 2013, the nursing faculty and students were to meet at Gate 4 at Tropicana Field. After parking in the main parking lot, my sister and I walked through the rain to Gate 4. We took elevators down to the field, crossed home plate, and headed to a section in left field to where Fuld would be talking to us. In left field was David Price tossing a ball around, practicing before batting practice even started. After sitting in the stands, an employee announced Sam Fuld, “Or as we call him around here, Super Sam.”
Fuld took the microphone and told us about his experience with diabetes. When he was ten, he was always thirsty and using the restroom, but when he lost ten pounds, his parents knew something was wrong. After taking him to a doctor, the family was told that Fuld’s sugar blood levels were at 500 milligrams per deciliter, way above average. When his parents found out he had type 1 diabetes, they were more worried about him than than he was while his younger sister was wondering why Fuld was receiving more attention than she was. But Fuld’s family always supported him his whole life; whether it was teaching him how to use insulin injections and keep track of his food or cheering him on at little league baseball games or professional baseball.
When Fuld went to college, he realized (like all college students) that mom and dad are not there to make sure you are taking care of yourself. But baseball made him stay disciplined. At a time when some athletes become more concern about girls and parties, Fuld stayed focus on baseball which paid off when he was drafted by Chicago Clubs in 2004. Fuld is now one of the outfielders with the Rays and is known for making tough catches in the outfield, as reason why is nickname is Super Sam. Besides playing baseball, Fuld talks to children with type 1 diabetes to inspire them that they too can lead normal lives. For Sam, he is just paying-it-forward. When he was 12, he met major league pitcher Bill Gullickson. Gullickson also had type 1 diabetes, but still played a professional sport. Gullickson inspired Fuld and Fuld hopes that he will be able to inspire children by hosting “USF Diabetes Sports Camp” in February. At the camp, coaches and athletes with type 1 diabetes teach children with type 1 diabetes how to play sports. Last February, Gullickson was one of these coaches. Fuld hopes that he too can be an idol to children just like Gullickson was to him.
After Fuld was done talking, he allowed the students to ask a few questions. I raised my hand and asked him ” Did anyone ever say to you that you shouldn’t play sports?” He said he wanted to say that “Someone told me no and I showed him” but he actually had encouraging family, coaches, and doctors. But he has heard of coaches being hesitant to put kids in, but he is hoping that the stigma associated with type 1 diabetes will soon die. After the question session, Fuld was whisked away to get ready for batting practice. As he walked by, I told him “Have a great game” to which he replied “thanks!” Because of Fuld, there are now 50 nursing students that are better prepared to take care of a child with type 1 diabetes and his family.