By Deb Silverthorn
Through stories and connections, blogs and toy buddies, Dallas native Raquel Baron brings her own life story about living with Type 1 diabetes to help children live with the disease.
Her organization, Type One Together, will host an online mental health chat for parents with expert Michelle Tubilla at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 11.
“More than anything, I want to share programming, information and products that normalize Type 1 diabetes,” said Baron. “I was that kid and there is so much more information, creativity and tools to help manage the disease. It doesn’t have to be a sad, bad thing.”
For Baron, learning to navigate Type 1 diabetes had its share of rough times.
Baron recalls her fifth birthday. She went for a medical checkup and her sugar numbers came back high after a finger-prick. She almost missed her birthday party, and she remembers how portion control, even at Planet Pizza, happened immediately and life was different.
A dancer for most of her life, more than a decade at Dallas Powerhouse of Dance, Baron has spent years hiding the insulin pump she started using at age 8 in her costumes or disconnecting it for a quick routine.
These experiences and more motivated Baron in 2019 to share her story in a positive way with young people and their parents.
The daughter of Tina and Don Schnair and David and Elisheva Baron, and sister of Sophie, Baron now lives in Austin. She attended Akiba Academy and Temple Emanu-El preschools, The Greenhill School and Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. She attended the University of Texas at Austin, pledged Sigma Delta Tau sorority and was involved in Chabad’s JTribe and Hillel.
While in college, Baron started a babysitting cohort for children with diabetes, relieving parents who worried if their child could be safe while they were out. When COVID-19 came about, Baron decided to take her passion to the next level.
“Everything in life affects a diabetic — everything,” said Baron. Her coaching business offers access to personalized sessions and other programs with helpful information, such as how children can eat the foods they love without a blood sugar spike; hormones and blood sugars; tips and tricks endocrinologists didn’t teach; effects of emotions, mental health and stress on blood sugar management; sharing disease management with loved ones; parent guilt and more.
“My coaching,” she said, “is all about how to act, and how to react.”
With artists and Dallas natives Emily Fine and Magen Kramsky, who both have their own Etsy stores, Baron has developed a line of “Diabuddies,” creative, hand-crocheted cuddlies — complete with their own “continuous glucose monitor” and “insulin pump” — for children to identify with.
The Diabuddies are crocheted by Kramsky, cousin of Baron and a Solomon Schechter Academy (now Ann and Nate Levine Academy), Plano Senior High School and University of Texas graduate who now teaches art in Austin. “I love being able to combine my talents to make someone happy,” said Kramsky, the daughter of Jeffrey (of blessed memory) and Helaine. “It puts my heart in a happy place to see the joy it can bring.”
Fine started her “Clay Buddy Studio” last year, with characters of polymer clay. She is the daughter of Chitra and Josh Fine, is a Greenhill School and University of Texas at Dallas graduate, and is now in medical school at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center while also working toward her master’s degree in public health. Fine has donated proceeds of her work to various organizations including the North Texas Food Bank. After seeing her former classmate and Temple Emanu-El friend on a news feature, she decided to make Type One Together her next beneficiary. More than money was shared; the two connected on the idea of Fine’s creating clay DiaBuddies to add to Baron’s inventory.
Both the clay and crocheted Diabuddies come in a variety of colors and designs, including a unicorn in both lines. In the diabetes community, “catching a unicorn” refers to the moments when patients test their blood sugar at exactly 100, a desired level for those with Type 1 diabetes. Baron’s site also offers medical ID and personalized bracelets.
Next up is a Type One Together coloring book. For each book sold, another will be donated to a newly diagnosed patient.
“Helping kids and their super parents is what Type One Together is about,” said Baron. “It’s about a goal of coaching kids and their parents through the diagnosis so we can all be healthy. It’s about being, and building, a community for my community.”
For details on all Type One Together offers, visit TypeOneTogether.com. To register for the May 11 event, visit tinyurl.com/Type-One-Together-Parent-Chat.