Judy Pamp thought she monitored her family’s eating habits fairly well. She knew there’d always be room for improvement, but one seemingly normal school day changed her perspective on everything.
At age 13, Judy’s son Toby learned he had Type 2 diabetes during a routine school physical. It came as a shock for Judy, who was called by the school nurse because Toby’s sugar levels were so high. He was not pre-diabetic, he was diabetic.
“It was a total wakeup call for all of us,” said Judy.
From that moment, Judy and her family made a commitment to one another to become healthier – and to do it together. They made an appointment with their doctor and began working with a nutritionist and diabetes educator.
Part of their commitment was an effort to get more physical activity, but a knee injury had previously limited Judy’s mobility. She told her children she needed their help to get moving and signed them up for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s Tribe to Tribe Blues Community Challenge’s #MIKidsCan youth marathon. She admits there was a bit of hesitation, but says the event was the start of their momentum on the path to get healthier.
Over the next nine weeks, Judy walked with her boys to log 25.2 miles of physical activity with the goal of completing their last mile (to reach the 26.2 miles required for a marathon), together at the Michigan Indian Family Olympics.
“The challenge gave us a goal to meet and helped us encourage one another on to success. When we completed that last mile, it gave us the incentive and self-pride to keep going. I kept saying ‘what else can we accomplish?’”
In addition to the marathon medals, Judy says the ultimate prize has been becoming healthier, spending quality time as a family, and being armed with the power to make better choices.
“This was an educational journey for us. We had to relearn what we knew about food and develop healthier habits,” said Judy, whose family is participating in the Tribe to Tribe Blues Community Challenge again this year. “Now we seek out any opportunity to be active so it doesn’t become a second thought – it becomes a priority.”
And their new, healthier habits are working. Toby has lowered his A1C levels and is managing his diabetes through diet and exercise. These changes have kept him off insulin for over a year. His brother Gegek, age 16, has lost 40 pounds and lowered his blood pressure. Judy has also lost 65 pounds and lowered her blood sugar, in addition to sleeping better and having more energy.
“I’m so glad I made the commitment to help myself and my children get healthy.”
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s Tribe to Tribe Blues Community Challenge is an annual incentive-based, wellness competition for Michigan’s tribal communities. The program is an extension of Blue Cross’ ongoing commitment to reducing health disparities in diverse communities.
Below, Judy Pamp teaches an after school Powwow dance program for families at the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways in Mount Pleasant, Mich.
Watch the video below to learn more about the role of dance in Native American culture and the importance of keeping mind, body and spirit healthy.
“Dance is spiritually uplifting and helps us maintain our physical health. We dance to celebrate life and connect all things in creation.” – Judy Pamp
This post is part of a storytelling series we call, “Beyond the Card.” These stories will feature Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan members, employees, and communities who are making meaningful differences throughout our state.
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