Georgia State University junior Brandon Savransky has never let diabetes slow him down. This summer, as a volunteer camp counselor, he showed kids with the same condition that they too, could reach for their dreams.
Savransky spent time as a volunteer cabin counselor at Camp Kudzu in Cleveland, Ga., a weeklong overnight camp where every child and counselor has Type 1 diabetes. The non-profit camp was founded in 2000 and now serves hundreds of families a year. With activities ranging from tubing to zip lining, the camp focuses on empowering, educating and inspiring children living with diabetes.
“Working at Camp Kudzu is my way of giving back to kids who live with the same challenges I have had to face since I was diagnosed six years ago,” said Savransky, who worked with 14-year-old boys at the camp. “I was able to share my experiences that I have encountered as well as demonstrate how people can still enjoy life while they manage living with Type 1 diabetes.”
Savransky vividly remembers the day he was diagnosed. It was the end of his freshmen year of high school, just four days after he competed in a state-wrestling tournament.
“I wasn’t feeling normal and I went to the doctor who found that my blood glucose was above the normal target range,” he said. “The doctor sent me to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and I was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic.”
Savransky was given a three-day training about the life long disease, a condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone needed to allow sugar to enter cells to produce energy.
“It was a challenge in sports and difficult to balance hard training and controlling the diabetes,” Savransky said.
Camp Kudzu provided Savransky his first opportunity to help other children learn how to properly manage their diabetes while living an active lifestyle. The camp, provides a variety of activities, including swimming, boating and arts and crafts.
“The campers also learn about the importance of counting carbohydrates because every piece of food must be taken into account in order to give the proper dosage of insulin to stay in target blood glucose level,” he explained.
Despite the inconvenience of living with Type 1 diabetes, Savransky was also able to explain to campers that “the condition is no longer a death sentence and that the best way to control the disease is through physical activity.”
“Diabetes has given me motivation to try my hardest and to not let things prevent me from achieving what I want to achieve,” he said.
Some of Savransky’s achievements at GSU have included working as a tour guide in the Welcome Center and as a lifeguard in the Student Recreation Center. He is also vice-president of Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity.
Savransky, who wants to pursue a graduate degree in physical therapy, completed more than 168 hours of volunteer service at Camp Kudzu and already plans to return next year.
“It’s such a rewarding experience to now know so many people just like me. It’s like being part of a family,” Savransky said. “This week was one of the most amazing and powerful experiences of my life.”