DRI and Foundation News

The Tomsula Family Helps the DRI Tackle Autoimmune Research Head On

May 2018 -- Bear Tomsula is not your typical 10-year-old. Similar to other fifth grade boys, he’s into sports like golf and baseball; and his favorite subject in school is science. What sets him apart, however, is his deep desire to help other people and a maturity that came with a type 1 diabetes diagnosis when he was 7.

Tomsula 575x337“The hardest thing about diabetes was trying to give myself the shots, but it’s really made me more mature,” said Bear, who from the beginning has injected insulin on his own. He also tests his blood sugar seven times a day. “Sometimes I even see it as a blessing because I can share what I know about diabetes with other people.”

His mom, Julie, added “Bear took responsibility from day one, but what scared me most was all the other things that could happen when your immune system is compromised. That’s what has been driving us.”

Julie started making changes to their diets, going wheat free and dairy free, which immediately helped Bear’s high blood sugar numbers stabilize. Her husband, Jim Tomsula, defensive line coach for the Washington Redskins, scoured the internet to find the most cutting-edge research in type 1 diabetes.

“When it’s your child,” Julie explained, “there’s no stone left unturned.” They learned about the cure-focused work being conducted at the Diabetes Research Institute and have since taken two tours of the state-of-the-art facility.

“Once we saw the magnitude of research happening there, I thought – we’re home, and I feel like there’s definitely going to be a cure in his lifetime,” she said.

Jim and Julie have now joined the DRI Foundation’s Florida Region Board, and the family made a generous donation to the DRI to support research aimed at overcoming the challenges of the immune system. Not surprisingly, it was Bear who helped decide where to direct the funding.

“There are a lot of people living with autoimmune disorders, and I thought this research might have a chance to help other people, as well,” he said selflessly.

(PICTURED: Bear Tomsula is surrounded by his family, Britney, Jim, Julie, and Brooke.)

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