Peter learning to live with Type 1 Diabetes while family fights to find cure
August 24, 2019
By Dave Cordero, PGATOUR.COM
- August 24, 2019
- Peter Heldring and his family got an all-access experience at the Boeing Classic.
Local fans were predictably enthused on the first tee at The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge when hometown hero Fred Couples was warmly introduced before splitting the middle of the fairway with his opening tee shot.
The 15th Boeing Classic was officially underway.
Taking in his first golf tournament and quietly watching the World Golf Hall of Fame member was local Seattle nine-year old, Peter Heldring, who was accompanied by his father, Thatcher, and 12-year brother, Jack.
Unlike other families, attending a sporting event like the Boeing Classic is not as easy as it once was for the Heldrings.
Life was turned upside down when Peter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes just days before his third birthday.
The Heldring family, who once lived typical, healthy lives, were now learning how to care and treat Peter as he joined the one in 1.25 million Americans diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
It is estimated that by 2050, five million people are expected to be diagnosed with the disease.
This growing number is what keeps the team at Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason (BRI) – the proud beneficiary of the Boeing Classic for the last 10 years – committed to immune system disease research. BRI researchers are committed to finding better ways to predict, prevent, reverse and ultimately cure these diseases, so that every individual will have a healthy immune system.
As the Heldrings have learned, Type 1 diabetes is constant, absolute, and unforgiving. Peter will never outgrow it. The disease impacts every aspect of daily life.
While the disease has its demands, on this day, the Heldrings were given a VIP experience, which included inside-the-ropes access, a tour of the clubhouse and the opportunity to meet a few players, including the legendary Couples.
“One cool thing is I got to bump fists with Fred Couples,” Peter said. “My favorite thing about the golf tournament is how far the golfers hit the ball.”
Fist bumping PGA TOUR Champions players, exploring the golf course and enjoying treats from the food trucks was all part of the experience and perhaps a temporary break from the daily rigors of Type 1 diabetes.
“The Heldrings were chosen to represent BRI at the tournament because of their tireless, heartfelt efforts to help us further our research and understanding of type 1 Diabetes (T1D) and other immune system diseases,” said Margaret McCormick, PhD, Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer at Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason. “We also want to thank all the pros, fans, staff and volunteers who support BRI’s work to help the millions of people living with diseases of the immune system.”
Peter’s dad, Thatcher, has been blogging about his son’s journey and wants the world to know that his son is no different than any kids Peter’s age. In fact, they play sports, just like Jordan Morris, the Seattle Sounders star who also lives with Type 1 diabetes.
“Peter is blessed with insulin, technology and care that have changed what it means to live with Type 1 Diabetes,” said Thatcher. “He and everyone else who live with the disease has reason to hope that the future will bring even better tools and outcomes. We owe this to BRI and researchers everywhere working on better treatments.”
In the meantime, Peter enjoys outdoor, social activities which is why his dad believes may lead to a future in golf. Regardless he will always be able to reflect on his special experience at the Boeing Classic.
“Type 1 diabetes is for life,” added Thatcher. “There may be no growing out of it, but Peter is definitely growing from it."