Thank you, Camp Braveheart, a backyard summer sports camp in New Canaan, Connecticut, for the recent, generous donation to the research team at the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center. The camp was started three years ago by 18-year-old Barclay Gammill from New Caanan, the oldest of five athletic brothers who all participate in the fun—including Brooks Gammill,15, a Camp Braveheart counselor who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last Spring.
If you are wondering how a teenage boy like Brooks Gammill adapted to the new normal of his life with type 1 diabetes (T1D), the answer is, “very quickly, much quicker than I ever thought,” said Pam, his grateful mom and the spokesperson for this story. “He was diagnosed last April and was playing hockey and lacrosse a month later! This summer he went to Montana to fish, hike, and hang out with friends. He also spent time on the water fishing on Nantucket. Brooks is a very responsible boy. T1D hasn’t stopped him from doing anything!”
And that includes his summer job at Camp Braveheart, a camp for 6 to 9 year old boys who love spending summers outside playing soccer, baseball, lacrosse and participating in other fun and games, as much as the brotherhood of Gammills. Brooks, Barclay, Briggs, 14, and Boden, 12, are all counselors, and 7-year-old Bauer is a camper.
Like all good ideas, Camp Braveheart was born out of necessity; when he was 15, Pam told Barclay to find a summer job and earn money. “It was a no brainer,” said Pam. “It gave them a sense of responsibility while having a great time running around in the comforts of our own backyard.”
Brooks became very sick in Sarasota on a family vacation last Easter. Pam called a friend she has known since she was a teenager growing up in New Jersey, Dr. Robin Goland. “She immediately knew he had diabetes when I told her his symptoms,” Pam recalled. “She worked very closely with the Sarasota doctors to get him stable enough to fly home. Within days of being diagnosed, we flew to NYC to meet our son's new team of doctors—including Robin and Dr. (Rachelle) Gandica.”
This is the first year Camp Braveheart has donated proceeds to a charity. For all of us, Pam said, “It was a privilege to be able to make this donation to the Berrie Center."