A free basketball camp is giving diabetic children the chance to learn how to manage their disease while learning the fundamentals of the sport.
The Moses E. Cheeks Slam Dunk for Diabetes Basketball Camp, to be held from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the University of Illinois Springfield Recreation and Athletic Center, is a basketball camp like no other, according to Jim Kelley, Bank of Springfield's vice president of business services. It's a chance for kids to learn that they're not alone in dealing with diabetes.
"It's really not about basketball," said Kelley, whose 13-year-old son has diabetes and has attended the camp in Chicago the past four years. "It's about you can be a kid, you can have diabetes, and you can still go out there and be energetic and compete. When the coach blows the whistle and says it's time to test your blood sugar, you're not the only one on the court who has to test your blood sugar."
Campers should arrive at the gym by 8:15 a.m. Saturday outfitted for basketball.
When they arrive, the children will go to a check station to register and then inside the gym and have their blood sugar tested and logged.
A basketball will be given to each camper.
Blood sugar testing is scheduled throughout the morning. If children need their blood sugar tested more often, they can go to the testing station.
All campers must undergo another blood sugar test before leaving camp.
"If you're a little bit high, you get insulin to bring your blood sugar down," Kelley said. "If you're low, then you get carbs to get your blood sugar numbers back up."
Family members are welcome to watch.
The Chicago-based camp was founded by Monica Joyce, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, who learned during the early 2000s that one of her patients was the wife of a man who was on the Chicago Bulls board of directors.
Soon after, she learned another patient was Moses Cheeks, the father of NBA coach and former player Maurice Cheeks. Moses Cheeks was recovering from pancreatic cancer and had Type 1 diabetes.
The inaugural camp, which took place in August 2004, was paid for by the Chicago Bulls. Moses Cheeks died in July 2005, one day before the second annual camp was to begin in Chicago.
Want to go?
What: Moses E. Cheeks Slam Dunk for Diabetes Basketball Camp
Who: Children ages 5-18
Where: UIS Recreation & Athletic Center, 2171 University Drive
When: Registration at 8:15 a.m.; camp from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.
How to enroll: Call Jim Kelley at 899-1190 to ask about availability