Elliott Fry and Brandon Picow were both diagnosed as children with type one diabetes. The two, now young men, not only refused to let the life-threatening disease hold them back, but have worked to help others who share the diagnosis and those working to find a cure.
The JDRF Palmetto Chapter honored them Saturday night at the organization’s 2016 Hope Gala by not only giving them an award, but also naming it in their honor as the Fry-Picow Living and Leading Award. Fry’s mother and Picow’s father presented the young men with their awards, and both had family members and friends in the audience at the fundraiser.
Fry. the starting kicker for the University of South Carolina football team, was diagnosed with diabetes when he was seven. He adjusted to life with the disease and became a football star, walking on with the Gamecocks and earning a spot on the Southeastern Conference All-Freshman team. He will be a senior this fall, and is considered one of the top kickers in the country. He said by the time he arrived at USC, he thought of himself as “another kid just playing football,” but when word spread of his diagnosis, he saw an opportunity.
“I started getting a lot of messages from parents around the Columbia area saying they were inspired by my story and their kids looked up to me,” he said. “I started to realize that, you know, I had a platform to use, especially with SEC Media Days a year ago, to really just raise awareness for type one and to help kids out there just know that whatever they want to do with their lives, it doesn’t have to be held back by diabetes.”
Fry has worked with JDRF since his freshman year, appearing at countless fundraisers and other events to help raise awareness of the disease and the ongoing efforts to find a cure. Picow, diagnosed at 11, used a different path and platform to achieve the same goals as a USC student.
Picow, working with Jonathan Barbrey, a JDRF board member, founded Diabuddies. As host Henry Rothenberg, formerly of WACH Fox, explained Saturday. the campus organization is a support system for students with type one, especially those far from home.
“Students that come to school, students that leave home for the first time ever, students that may not think about the fact ‘Mom and dad aren’t here if my insulin is running low; I can’t get to the pharmacy of my insulin is out,'” Rothenberg said. “So that you can have that insulin to get you through the night, so that you have a buddy system. Not many of us that can say we decided to do something like that in college. So much more than enjoying your four years.”
As president of USC’s Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, Picow also organized and led fundraisers which brought in more than $35,000 for JDRF, and successfully lobbied to have JDRF added to the list of philanthropies for the national Alpha Epsilon Pi organization. Picow, a recent USC graduate, will be moving to Atlanta, but Diabuddies will remain.
“It’s really been a tremendous group,” Picow said. “There are kids from California where their parents are very comforted to know that they can just have other diabetics on campus… there to help them.”
“Dollars and cents are not all that we need,” Rothenberg said. “We need people to raise awareness, and that’s what Brandon Picow and Elliott Fry have done.”
More information on the JDRF Palmetto Chapter, which provides support for those diagnosed with type one and their families as well as supporting research for a cure, is available here.
Pictured: Elliott Fry (left) and Brandon Picow became the first recipients of the Fry-Picow Living and Leading Award at the JDRF Palmetto Chapter Hope Gala Saturday night (photo by Allen Wallace).