Live. Work. Play: Diana’s Diabetes Story

By American Diabetes Association

Working for the American Diabetes Association® means making a difference for millions of people and working toward a future free of diabetes and all its burdens.

We all have a story to share. Some of us live with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes or prediabetes. Others have loved ones with the disease or have lost someone to the fight.

The following are personal stories from the Association’s staff about why we are so committed to the mission to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes.

April 2010: As a volunteer I got to meet the artist Frankie J.

Diana Velo
Associate Manager, Area Community Engagement
San Diego

I came to know the American Diabetes Association in 2009, when I was offered the opportunity to volunteer my time for the Por Tu Familia program. But my diabetes story started in 2005, when I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at the age of 18. I am not ashamed to admit that I live with something that might have been prevented had I been more educated about the risk factors for type 2.

I didn’t do much or care much, to be honest—about the disease. I was in complete denial and refused to accept any medical attention for it. I thought if I ignored my diagnosis enough, it would go away on its own.

This all changed in 2008, when I became pregnant with my first child. I knew that if I wanted to live and see my baby grow, I would have to make some hard choices and stick by them. My first step was going on medication and checking my blood glucose like I was told to do.

But I felt that something was missing. Even though I wasn’t the only person in my family with this disease, I was the only person my age. At the time of my diagnosis, most of my relatives with diabetes were in their late 40s and couldn’t relate to me or my situation.

I started volunteering with the Association. A then staff member asked if I wanted to help out at the local office in San Diego as well, so whenever I could I would go in and help with any projects they had for me. Eventually, there was an administrative support opening at that office, and I applied—not knowing in that moment that it was going to be a life-changer for me.

Nearly three years later, I feel more committed than ever and in debt to the Association for all the help and support I’ve received as a volunteer, an employee and a person living with diabetes. My diabetes has never been so controlled. I recently started using a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). I am now on insulin shots and will potentially go on a pump within the next few months.

Diana 2

Left to right: Dewan Gibson, Sheila Mazdyasni, Diana Velo, Nikki Woodward and Nicole Parker

Seeing firsthand how hard the Association works both locally and nationally and working with my community has motivated me to continue working here. I know how hard the staff works to put on events like Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes®, Tour de Cure® and Father of the Year.

It’s my duty and own mission to educate the masses, to inspire others to make a choice like I did and live better, smarter and healthier. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it hadn’t been for that very first opportunity in 2009 to tell my story in front of a few people who, like me, live with diabetes.

To learn more about nationwide employment opportunities and life at the Association, please visit


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