Last Updated on January 26, 2024
When Jessica Walter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2016, she thought her softball career was over. Walter was steadily improving her pitching and aspired to play in college, but all of that suddenly seemed out of reach.
It was words from her endocrinologist, a fellow diabetic, that encouraged her to push through. “This will only stop you if you let it,” Walter was told. And push through she did.
Her first year with the diagnosis was difficult. It consisted of pricking her fingers raw, with constant worry about dipping below safe glucose levels while playing. However, once she began using the Dexcom CGM system in year two, everything changed. Not only could she now access her blood sugar levels without drawing blood, but her parents, coaches, and trainers could monitor her numbers on the app associated with the device.
Now a junior pitcher at Providence College, Walter is a member of Dexcom U, a group of college athletes with diabetes who rely on the technology assembled to inspire future generations of athletes living with the condition. In its second season, Dexcom U added 11 members, including Walter, and has continued to provide educational resources for athletes with diabetes, their parents, and coaches.
“Spreading educational awareness about diabetes is just invaluable, especially for people that don’t know that much about it. It could save a life,” Walter said. “That’s why I was so thrilled when I saw the first season of Dexcom U that came out, I was like ‘This is exactly what I’m looking for.’ This is how I want to use my opportunity to give back to people.”
Aside from participating in question and answer sessions and acting as spokespeople for the technology, Dexcom U members serve as physical examples that living with diabetes doesn’t mean you can’t play the sport you love. According to a Dexcom survey, 48% of adults with Type 1 diabetes and parents of children with the condition believe that being aware of a professional or top amateur athlete or celebrity with the condition would be very beneficial for a newly diagnosed individual — a position the program’s college athletes assume.
For Walter, many of her conversations with younger athletes happen organically, sometimes even stemming from when her Dexcom alarm goes off and alerts someone nearby who might have the same condition.
“My favorite part is speaking to the younger girls who have it because some of them will look at you like ‘Oh my god, they’re just like me and they’re out on the field right now’ or ‘They’re on TV,'” Walter said. “It’s something cool when you can see the light in people’s faces.”
Walter said the Dexcom system has “1,000%” made her time as a college athlete easier and more efficient. It is the reason she has never had low glucose during a lift in college, and it is the reason she can breathe easier while on the mound, knowing her coaches, trainers, and parents are watching her numbers and have her back.
“I know without the Dexcom I would not be as confident in my diabetes management, I wouldn’t be as independent,” she said. “Those are things that I love about myself. So I can imagine things would be a little bit different if I didn’t have Dexcom, and I’m very thankful to have it.”