Wesleyan’s Michael Alexander Chaney, coordinator of student activities at Texas Wesleyan, is a Type I diabetic. He created an event called DIABEATTHIS after Garrison Hawley, a student at Wesleyan, died last spring. Dealing with nausea and vomiting was just a part of Chaney’s daily life right after he found out he had diabetes.
Chaney knew he had to learn how to take care of himself. Within hours of being diagnosed, he had to learn how to inject himself with insulin shots in order for doctors to release him from the hospital. Chaney spent six days at the hospital and four of them were in the intensive care unit . During the first year after being diagnosed, Chaney had eight additional visits to the hospital with doctors trying to diagnose any more complications.
“I never hesitated to do what I had to do to get better,” Chaney said. “Me, myself being a Type I diabetic, [Garrison’s death] really kind of shook me to the core,” Chaney said. Chaney was diagnosed four years ago at age 26 with adult onset Type I diabetes. Three years ago after leaving the hospital, Chaney was working at Texas Wesleyan at the concession center. That’s when he met Garrison Hawley.
“He gave me some words of encouragement,” Chaney said. “He told me, ‘Yeah, it’s tough to live with it, but it’s manageable.’ “It really meant a lot to me,” Chaney said. Chaney wanted to do something to raise awareness of diabetes after Hawley’s death. He worked with faculty and students to create the “Dia-beat-this” event. “DIABEATTHIS was a health awareness festival that took place on Oct. 5 in support of diabetes’ research. Chaney wanted to create a change.
“Diabetes is affecting approximately 26 million Americans and is one of the leading causes of death in the United States,” Chaney said, “so I wanted to bring some education concepts to people and make them take this seriously.” Over the period of planning the event, the organizers faced some issues. Chaney had to change the dates several times. On top of that, one of the bands who was supposed to play cancelled. “But, with perseverance we achieved our goal,” Chaney said/
Chaney was not alone with the DIABEATTHIS project. Chris Windsor, assistant dean of students at Texas Wesleyan and also Chaney’s direct boss, was a part of this awareness event. “He is always coming up with new ideas,” Windsor said. “Michael loves the university. He honestly pours his heart into everything he does.”
Windsor said he enjoys working with Chaney because Windsor knows how professional Chaney is. “Michael is always trying to find new ways to make things better,” Windsor said. “Very rarely, these days, you find people who are completely passionate about their job.” Trent Sandles, a senior business management and English major, also worked with Chaney. “One of the biggest things I have learned about Chaney has been patience and how to work with people,” Sandles said.
“Chaney is caring,” Sandles said. “You will genuinely see anyone who cares about what they are doing, not only on campus but everything he works on. ” Chaney also has support from Sarah Chaney, his wife, who has been there since he was diagnosed with diabetes. “When it comes to diabetes, it’s harder for me,” Sarah Chaney said. “I worried the most. At first, it wasn’t easy for him, but now, he knows how to live with it.”
One of the things his wife said she admires the most about Chaney is his multiple strengths and the way he is dealing with diabetes. “He is not only optimistic, but he is a good husband, a good father and good with people,” she said. “My family motivates me to keep going,” Michael Chaney said. “Unfortunately, I lost my father at a very early age, and I don’t want my son to lose me. It’s the beautiful life, and the beautiful people around me who have touched my life in an amazing way that I hope that I can provide an inspiration to them.”
Chaney says he has always been optimistic and wants to do his part to make a better world. “I am a believer,” Chaney said. “You never know what type of day someone is having, and a simple smile can change things.”
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