When you’re eight years old, at an amusement park and you’re falling asleep—and not from riding all the rides—there’s something wrong.

“My blood sugar was more than 800,” said Desiree Adams. “I ended up in the ICU for four days.”

Adams was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. It’s an autoimmune disease that strikes suddenly. It has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle. There is no way to prevent it and currently there is no cure.

“I gave myself injections every day until I got an insulin pump,” said Adams.

She monitors her sugar levels with software on her phone now. If levels fall too low, she’s got snacks and juice boxes at her desk to boost it. No Pepsi though, that was the go-to when she was younger to bring up her blood sugar. She’s had enough Pepsi.

Adams says her diabetes is manageable. But for others with the disease, that’s not the case.

In 2017, according to the American Diabetes Association, 1.25 million Americans had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

In the absence of a cure, JDRF, a national non-profit organization, raises money to fund research. The goal: To create a world without type 1 diabetes. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska is a sponsor of this year’s JDRF One Walk in Omaha on August 25.

Adams’ diabetes prompted her to major in exercise science and nutrition (Kinesiology) in college.

Today, she is a training and documentation specialist in the Benefits Department at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska. Every day, she helps train Benefits Department members on how to process claims accurately and efficiently, delivering the best possible service to our members, many of whom suffer from chronic diseases like diabetes.

“It’s so important to tell our members what is going on with their insurance claim and try to understand what they are going through. We need to get it right the first time for them,” Adams said.

Adams’ coworkers and BCBSNE members benefit from this caring and compassionate outlook—a nature that comes from managing her own chronic disease almost all her life.