JDRF Cincinnatians of the Year



The Cramer family channeling the spirit of the Beach Boys. From left: Ethan Nelson, Molly Cramer, David Cramer, Laura Cramer, Alex Cramer & Melissa Cramer

 

Life took an unexpected turn for the Cramer family during a girls’ lacrosse game 15 years ago.

“Our daughter Molly was out running down the field and then she just passed out,” remembers Laura Cramer. “Here is this super healthy 12-year-old girl collapsed on the field and then quickly in the emergency room at Children’s. Despite a lot of testing, doctors didn’t seem to know right away what was going on until they tested her blood sugar. They very quickly knew that Molly  had Type 1 diabetes.”

With this new diagnosis, things began to change for Laura, her husband David, their son Alex and of course, most of all for Molly.

“It’s a 24/7 disease,” says Laura. “There’s no break from it, no escaping it. And back at home there were a lot of middle-of-the-night blood sugar checks and sleepless nights for all of us. We even worried about Molly when we sent her to school. It really is a tough disease to manage from the day you’re diagnosed. Even during school breaks, Molly couldn’t ever truly relax because there is never a vacation from Type 1 diabetes.”

The Cramers quickly learned that they were surrounded by a supportive community.

“Our friends and family have stepped up and been all in with us the whole way,” says David. “Emotionally, financially – the caring and support is really beyond belief. We realized we were doubly blessed after we became involved with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foudation (JDRF).”

After getting involved and volunteering with JDRF, the family met others who are also affected by the disease.

“We learned that the best thing was to just take a deep breath and know that the beginning is tough AND that the middle was going to be tough, too,” says David. “One reason that I support JDRF is that I’ve developed real relationships with people going through the same thing. It’s an important part of how I got through all of this.”

In addition to the community at JDRF, the Blue Ash family appreciated the organization’s singular focus: funding research to find a cure.

“It’s extraordinary to see all of the advancements in technology used to better manage Type 1 diabetes today,” says David. “The pumps and the Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) devices first started coming out about 10 years ago and just keep getting better. The CGM device sticks to your arm and gives you a constant update on your glucose levels so you can easily read  your blood sugar.  I know JDRF funded the research that is producing today’s amazing results.”

Now working in human resources for a company in Richmond, Virginia, Molly has tools that help her control the disease 24/7.

“Molly can be sitting in a meeting, glance down and know exactly where her blood sugar levels are and what she needs to do to function in a way that most of us simply take for granted as normal,” says Laura. “These devices connect to your phone and it’s a huge improvement from the days of constantly pricking your finger in order to use a test strip.  Parents of young kids with Type 1 diabetes today can have their phones linked to their child’s CGM. If their glucose level goes low at night, an alarm will wake you up so you can deal with it. Talk about a huge stress-reliever.”

Since Molly was diagnosed, Laura, David and their son, Alex, have all gotten involved at JDRF.

“As a family we really went all in,” smiles Laura. “For me, the Galas have become my focus and I’ve chaired it three times now. Dave has done at least fifteen 100-mile JDRF bike-ride fundraisers throughout the country with Molly, Alex, sister, sister-in-law, and nieces and nephews. David was on the board for a while and now I’m serving on the board. We really are behind this cause.”

After learning how to manage her diabetes as a child, Molly went on to be on a rowing team at the University of Richmond and landed a great job after graduation.

“We really owe a good measure of her success to the advancements JDRF has championed,” says David. “I’m awestruck by the amount of money generated by JDRF fundraisers that goes directly to research. They’re incredibly efficient in getting funding directly into the lab.”

Laura and David are honored to be named Cincinnatians of the Year and have dedicated the award to the entire Cramer family, including their son, Alex, and his wife, Melissa; their daughter, Molly, and her boyfriend Ethan Nelson.

“We are so proud of Molly for being able to succeed in life even with this chronic condition that can often be seen as an excuse for not being able to accomplish your goals,” smiles David. “She’s living a regular, normal life, she works out every day, hikes, and has hobbies like knitting, and she has two dogs that she’s rightly obsessed with.”

“After that day on the lacrosse field, we learned that we all had to be all in for the long haul. As a parent you just want to ‘solve it,’ but Type 1 isn’t just something we could fix for her overnight. We needed to manage for the long-term and help her see the benefits of actively managing Type 1 today versus the effects that mismanaging the disease could bring. And we had to do it in a loving way.”