For an example of what philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche meant when he wrote “That which does not kill us makes us stronger,” look no further than Harry Crider.
After being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 10, the Columbus East standout football lineman has remained motivated by his disease to better himself.
While some with diabetes may perceive it as a curse, the 17-year-old Crider views it as a positive development in his life.
“I wouldn’t be where I am without it,” said Crider a few hours after announcing last week that he had committed to play football next fall for Indiana University. “Diabetes has helped me grow as a person.”
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Acknowledging his parents’ involvement, Crider has frequently spoken on how significant the care he received from Riley Hospital for Children has been in improving his body, mind and character.
On Friday, East fans cheered as the 6-foot-4, 260-pound senior played during the Olympians’ season opener against Bloomington North, which East won 62-7.
But the quality of Crider’s character was most evident off the gridiron at Stafford Field during fundraising and awareness efforts on behalf of Riley.
It was evident in the volunteers manning tables to accept collections, in the “Miracle Minute” fundraising runs at half-time, and the concession stand tips provided to the hospital.
Friday’s “Kick-Off for Riley” activities may have been the fulfillment of a senior project requirement, but Crider has served the Indianapolis pediatric medical facility under far more difficult circumstances.
As a participant in clinical trials, Crider allows specialists with the Wells Center for Pediatric Research at Riley to learn more about the causes and natural history of diabetes as well as to find potential new therapies, Riley representative Caitlin Dempsey said.
“Harry volunteers to have numerous blood draws and spends hundreds of hours hooked up to an IV,” Dempsey said.
Citing Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck as his fundraising mentor, Crider is already in talks with Riley officials about working with their “Change The Play” initiative.
That’s the name of Luck’s multi-faceted partnership with Riley to provide incentives to children for making better choices regarding food and exercise.
“I’ll be looking more into that in the next couple weeks, after I complete my senior project,” Crider said. “I’m thinking about going to the schools and talking to the children.”
This level of selflessness is no surprise to East head football coach Bob Gaddis, who pointed out his parents, Bob and Elizabeth Crider, had been working on behalf of Riley even before Harry was born.
It was at Riley where Bob Crider’s 14-year-old daughter, Jolie Beth Crider, died on May 7, 1998, just one day after coming down with meningococcal meningitis.
“There was nothing they could do for Jolie,” Bob Crider said. “But even with that terrible experience, Riley was incredible as far as their compassion and care they gave us, and that’s why we began to support them.”
It was 11 years after her death when the family returned to the children’s hospital with 10-year-old Harry, where he was diagnosed with diabetes.
“But this time, I was just so grateful that our child could be saved, that he could be treated with no negative effects, and do whatever he wanted,” Bob Crider said.
Like her mother, aerobics and physical training instructor Shayla Holtkamp, Jolie Crider was extremely athletic. She played basketball, softball and volleyball as a Columbus North freshman as well as on the AAU and Gus Macker basketball teams.
Today, Holtcamp sees some of those traits in her late daughter’s half-brother.
“I’m friends with Bob and Elizabeth and have enjoyed watching Harry grow up to become an incredible young man,” Holtkamp said. “I can’t help but think that Jolie is watching Harry with pride. She would have adored him.”
With Harry Crider headed to Indiana University next season, he said he’s looking forward to promoting Riley when he arrives in Bloomington.
“Harry is a very humble, hard-working young man,” Gaddis said. “He’s a great poster-child — or poster ‘young man’ — for Riley. He carries that torch well.”
After Harry Crider also said he was going to do all he could for Riley while at IU, he paused a moment.
Crider knows that playing college-level football will require much more from him than playing in high school. As an IU football player, Crider will constantly be on the move traveling, playing games, attending class and meeting with groups.
Trying to maintain good blood glucose values while coping with a demanding schedule may become one of the greatest challenges of his life, he said.
“I’ll definitely have some growing up to do because blood glucose levels could go haywire if you don’t manage it well at all times,” Crider said. “There will be no Mom or Dad around, so all the responsibility will be on me.”
While Gaddis said he will remain concerned about Crider after he graduates, the coach expressed confidence that his star athlete has what it takes to overcome the challenges ahead.
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The symptoms of Type 1 diabetes usually start in childhood or young adulthood. People often seek medical help because they are seriously ill from sudden symptoms of high blood sugar. Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented.
In contrast, diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes is usually discovered in adulthood. There are no episodes of low blood sugar levels in Type 2 diabetes unless the person is taking insulin or certain diabetes medicines. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed with a healthy lifestyle, including maintaining a healthy weight, eating sensibly and exercising regularly.
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Donations may be made online at rileychildren.org or mailed to:
Riley Children’s Foundation
30 South Meridian St., Suite 200
Indianapolis, IN 46204-3509