Balancing school, sports and sleep is no easy task, and for freshman quarterback Jaden Barr there’s yet another element to his daily schedule, living with Type 1 diabetes. But Barr got the chance of a lifetime, as he was able to meet and get inspiration from one of his favorite quarterbacks.
The last day of his freshman year of high school, Barr says he was diagnosed with a disease he knew very little about. Barr says Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body cannot naturally produce insulin. Without insulin, glucose is trapped in the bloodstream and does not give the body’s tissues and cells the fuel they need. For someone with Type 1 diabetes, a healthy lifestyle and two shots of insulin are required every day to maintain a healthy blood-glucose level.
Barr says the ability to keep playing sports was his primary concern after his diagnosis.
“As soon as I got to the hospital, that was my first question – ‘Can I still play sports?’” Barr says. “That’s pretty much what had consumed my life up until that point, so that was my major concern. At first I was scared and confused, I guess, but the doctors reassured me right away that athletics wouldn’t have to change.”
While adjusting to diabetes, Barr became a three-sport athlete. With All-Conference awards in basketball and baseball, Barr earned All-State accolades and set school records as a quarterback at California High School in California, Missouri. When Barr signed to play at Truman State, he says he was fulfilling a longtime dream of playing college football. In addition to his first college season, Barr says people started hearing about his story and were inspired.
After his hometown friends discovered Dream Factory, a foundation devoted to fulfilling the dreams of ill children, Barr says they encouraged him to put in an application. He says he was hesitant at first and had to be convinced to apply for his wish.
“I didn’t really want this because I was doing fine with what I have,” Barr says. “I didn’t feel like I needed a special trip since there a lot of kids worse off than me who need it more than I do.”
Barr says he finally sent an application, however, stating his wish to workout alongside one of his most influential role models, former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow. Barr says he admires Tebow’s passion for helping people and sharing his faith.
“I first started following him when I saw his Heisman Trophy presentation,” Barr says. “The first thing he said was just ‘I want to thank my lord and savior Jesus Christ,’ and ever since then, I’ve really respected him. The more I learn about him, the more I see he’s just an all-around awesome guy.”
Barr says Dream Factory directed Barr’s wish to the Tim Tebow Foundation. He became a part of the W15h program, which fulfills the dreams of those with chronic diseases who wish to meet Tebow. In five years, the W15h program granted more than 50 official experiences with customized daily activities and one-on-one time with the former Heisman Trophy winner.
Barr says his personalized experience began Nov. 21 when he was flown to Columbia, South Carolina. After meeting with foundation sponsors, Barr came face-to-face with his role model and threw the ball around under the lights of the William-Brice Stadium at the University of South Carolina. Barr says he then completed a workout with Tebow, followed by dinner. The next day, Barr went on the set of “SEC Nation,” and finished the weekend at a South Carolina football game.
Barr says his favorite part of the experience was getting to know what kind of person Tebow is outside of football.
“He made me feel like the celebrity,” Barr says. “He was so humble, and nice, and just a big jokester, but you could definitely see he has a passion for kids, sharing the Gospel and sharing his faith.”
Barr says this experience inspired him to impact others the way Tebow impacted him. He says he is taking advantage of this chance to make a difference as he works as a global ambassador for the Team Type 1 Foundation.
For the full story, including more information about the Team Type 1 Foundation, pick up a copy of the Index or click here to read online on Issuu.