Yes I Can! Yes You Can! &mdash Reviews
Children with Diabetes
Review by Jeff Hitchcock of children with DIABETES:
Being diagnosed with diabetes requires a new way of thinking. You learn about insulin, checking blood sugars, carbs, exercise -and the importance of planning. But you don't give up your dreams, and you don't take "No" for an answer. That's the message of Yes I Can! Yes You Can!, a book about Jay Leeuwenburg, who was diagnosed at age 12 and went on to play nine years in the NFL as an offensive lineman. Written by Denny Dressman and Jay, the book alternates between Denny putting everything into perspective and Jay sharing his personal experiences, such as:
I knew from just the mere fact of going to my normal three-month doctor visits that there were thousands upon thousands of children who were seeking answers to what I thought were just basic questions about living with and managing diabetes. And they were getting such outrageous advice that I couldn't understand.Jay's experiences and attitude can help anyone who is struggling with a new diagnosis or who is overwhelmed with caring for themselves. His experience is about persevering in the face of the challenge of diabetes and never letting it be an excuse. That's a great story for everyone.
Highly Recommended-- JSH
The Bonham Group
Review in Boardroom Sports
by Don Hinchey of The Bonham Group:
Boardroom Sports hasn't been shy about calling attention to the dark side of sports - athletes behaving badly. That's why it's so refreshing to highlight an athlete whose actions are a credit to himself and a positive example for others.
Such an example is neatly chronicled in Yes I Can! Yes You Can! Tackle Diabetes and Win! (ComServ Books) by Rocky Mountain News Associate Managing Editor Denny Dressman and former Colorado football star Jay Leeuwenburg. It's the inspirational story of Leeuwenburg's refusal to let diabetes prevent him from fulfilling his athletic dreams and a vigorous affirmation that people with diabetes can lead successful lives.
Jay was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a few days after his 12th birthday. Initially, the news created parental confusion, concern and even guilt. After the shock wore off, Jay's folks responded strategically. They sought expert medical help and found it in the form of Dr. Pat Wolff, a prominent St. Louis endocrinologist with an uncompromising approach: make the child responsible for the problem and give him or her the tools to deal with it. As she told Jay: "It's up to you. You're smart, and you get this. We need to make a plan."
Wolff found a receptive patient in Jay. The word victim was never in his vocabulary. When he set his mind to do something - riding a pogo stick for blocks, bicycling for miles or playing sports - he did it. He sums up his attitude at that time with a sijmple phrase. "To not participate," hs says, "would be like saying, 'Don't breathe.' "
Jay did not play football until he entered Kirkwood High School in St. Louis, where he starred in football and wrestling. While there, Jay's journey with his disease was one of self-education, educating others about his particular needs (especially coaches and trainers) and, most of all, managing his diabetes regimen.
Because of his athletic prowess at Kirkwood, Jay was pursued by several major college football teams including Notre Dame, Iowa and Missouri. But it was the University of Colorado who expressed the most interest, luring him to Boulder in 1987.
While at CU, Leeuwenburg played for Bill McCartney in four bowl games, including back-to-back national championship Orange Bowl games, both against his former suitor Notre Dame. The buffaloes split those match-ups with the Irish, but they were prime time opportunities for Jay to showcase his talent. His senior year, Jay was team captain and a unanimous All-American selection at center. After Jay's senior season, he was not drafted until the ninth round by the Kansas City Chiefs. Clearly, some teams had reservations about diabetes. He was in Kansas City just long enough to be acquired by the Chicago Bears, where he played against future Hall of Famers Lawrence Taylor and Reggie White and had a memorable sideline encounter with the immortal Walter Payton.
In Chicago Jay was a community favorite and made many good friends. Among them were the folks from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, who recognized Jay's popularity and parlayed it into speaking engagements on behalf of the JDRF. This popularity and usefulness blossomed after the Colts signed Jay as a free agent. While in Indianapolis, Jay and his wife Ingher established Jay's Corner, a section of the RCA Dome where their generosity allowed 150 diabetic kids and their families to enjoy each Colts home game. After games, Jay would often interact with these people and communicate how to manage the disease.
Communication is still a Leeuwenburg strength.
Today, Jay teaches at Colorado Academy and appears regularly as a Broncos and college football analyst on FSN Rocky Mountain and other television networks.
He also counsels corporate executives on how to help their employees control the explosion of Type 2 diabetes in their workforce and increase their knowledge of Type 1 diabetes so they don't underestimate workers who have it.
The Bonham line: Dressman and Leeuwenburg provide encouragement, hope and valuable advice for families dealing with a potentially debilitating disease. Their motivating message emphasizes that it can be managed, controlled and conquered.
'An important story'
Lance Porter, Editor
Review by Ralph Loos of The Southern Illinoisan:
For the diabetic, "Yes I Can! Yes You Can!" is a series of real-life examples of dealing with the disease. For the non-diabetic, it's an education about what diabetic athletes - and diabetics in general - must go through almost every hour of every day.
Dressman provides the overall footing and storytelling for the book, while Leeuwenburg pops in from time to time to provide details.
About his diagnosis and athletics, Leeuwenburg writes, "Minus anything else happening to me, I refused to not be able to participate. I had to be able to play any sport I wanted. I needed that physical outlet.
"They said I would be able to, but I'd have to make some modifications."
It's those modifications - detailed throughout the book - that will make readers with diabetes, or those close to someone with diabetes, chuckle, nod, sigh and perhaps even cry.
Besides being entertaining, the book is a warning to young and old: Diabetes is a serious disease.
It inspires, telling tales of Leeuwenburg's life as a diabetic. Above all, it motivates.