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Our Story

Camp Bru Co-founder, Jake Brudish, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at fifteen months of age in 1995. Jake played Division I basketball at Southern Methodist University and has been coaching at the collegiate level for over six years. Jake has been a part of multiple conference championship teams and trips to the NCAA tournament as a player and coach. Jake is so grateful that he was empowered with many different tools and experiences that allowed him to manage his blood sugars and attain his goals.

“My parents have always had a positive attitude. I never felt like a victim because they never felt like victims. After all, I was diagnosed as a baby so they made it their mission to empower me to live a fulfilling life. While it wasn’t always easy, we were a team - we picked each other up and did our best every day. Before we knew it, I was a regular kid - playing sports, making friends, and going to school. As long as I had my insulin and my test kit, I believed that I had everything I needed. I was and continue to be grateful for that…Thank you Mom and Dad.

 

However, I felt there was a stigma around diabetes. I didn’t have any close friends with T1D. I knew and met a few other people with T1D, and it seemed they let it control their lives. At the same time, there was also a group that was dismissive of our disease - who failed to acknowledge the seriousness of proper daily management…

 

My parents would suggest going to diabetes camps and I would push back every time… When I was fourteen years old, I finally agreed to attend my first “diabetes camp,” the Chris Dudley Basketball Camp in Vernonia, Oregon. I was reluctant, but it was a BASKETBALL camp afterall. And Chris Dudley was the first person to play in the NBA with T1D, so how bad could it be??

 

This turned out to be one of the most enlightening experiences of my life.

 

I worked hard on the court, learned a few pointers to help with my diabetes management, and met a group of lifelong friends and role models. The main thing I took from that week at camp was a humble perspective - to think of myself less, but not think less of myself… I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders as I went back to my life in Maryland. Plus I gained a new sense of respect and gratitude for my parents and sister, as I reflected on their experience from a different lens…

 

The desire to belong is a fundamental part of human nature. Until I attended camp, I didn’t realize the emotional toll I’d been carrying. Through sweat, tears, laughter, and joy, the sense of belonging and connectedness I developed with this new community of peers and mentors was priceless. I’ll never forget opening the refrigerator and seeing every shelf STUFFED with various types of insulin and each one was labeled with a camper’s name! This special memory provided a feeling of support and belonging that I had never experienced before. 

 

That was sixteen years ago and I’ve been sharing my story ever since. Camp Bru is now part of my giving back – to connect youth with peers and mentors who understand the daily challenges they face living with T1D, to provide a sense of belonging to someone who might not even know they’re lacking it, and to bring a fresh perspective to those who need it… just like I did.”

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