Local Hero: Sean Busby

The pro snowboarder and founder of Riding On Insulin camps empowers kids with diabetes.

Sean Busby was a professional snowboarder in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, when he was diagnosed with diabetes at 19 in 2004 year. As a result, Busby had to learn to manage his diabetes on and off the mountain. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which people must test their blood sugar and inject insulin multiple times a day to survive (Busby now wears an insulin pump, which makes shots unnecessary).

Today, Busby runs the non-profit Riding On Insulin, which offers snowboarding and skiing camps for kids with diabetees. He founded the camps a decade ago and this season, he and his team will be at Winter Park, in Colorado, Whitefish Mountain, in Montana, and Diamond Peak, in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, as well as other resorts in the United States and New Zealand.

“It’s a good way for kids to come and learn a sport for the first time,” says Busby, pointing out that many camps for diabetics run in summer months. “We can keep them active and keep them learning about the disease, especially in a winter environment.”

Kids get first-hand experience balancing the impact of variables like exercise, altitude, humidity and climate on their bodies. Siblings are invited to ski and snowboard, and parents can take classes on diabetes and connect with other parents during camp time. Busby emphasizes that it takes a community to successfully manage a disorder like diabetes. Camp counselors (many of whom have diabetes themselves) and trained medical volunteers like EMTs and nurses help keep the environment safe. The organization also hosts mountain biking and surfing camps.

“We want kids to come to camp where they can feel connected to other kids, make new friends, share those experiences and feel empowered to take care of their disease,” he says.

—Kate Ruder

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