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It is with both pleasure and pride that I write to you in support of Sarah Yourman. Living with cystic fibrosis all her life, as well as diabetes and Crohn’s Disease over half her life, Sarah has learned how to overcome challenges and appreciate opportunities.

Awareness encourages action: As a High School freshman, Sarah founded JDAC, the Juvenile Diabetes Awareness Club, to raise awareness about diabetes. As Sarah has grown and matured so has the sophistication of her endeavors. Sarah instinctively moved from just raising awareness (although that work continues) to taking action. JDAC still raises awareness of diabetes, but by 2010 had raised over $60,000 to support campership programs and education for youth and young adults with diabetes. The camperships offer two week camp scholarships to needy children while her “Driving for the Diabetic Teenager” Program educated her “diabetic peers” to the steps necessary to be a safe driver on the road.

She demonstrates excellent leadership ability as well as an amazing capacity to turn a challenge into a positive life experience. Sarah alerted the community to the needs of a child with diabetes and the part played by outside resources in helping these children attain normalcy in their daily lives. Sarah has a strong sense of social responsibility and spends countless hours dedicating her time to community service projects. Sarah is extremely energized and passionate about life and is a caring, empathetic and motivated young woman.

Sarah is a creative thinker and is not afraid to share her ideas. She recognizes the creativity and special-ness of others. Sarah’s mature perspective and sense of responsibility belies her chronologic age. She is a dynamo with a commitment to helping others. I believe her commitment to helping others is reflective of a true humanitarian. Sarah always has a positive outlook no matter what comes her way. She has had a maturity and flair for leadership.

Sarah has been a public advocate for cystic fibrosis, diabetes and other chronic diseases starting at a very young age. Whether it was sitting next to her mother during a hearing of health-care reform in 1994 or participating herself in 2008, Sarah has always had the flair to speak publicly about her own situation to help benefit others who could not speak for themselves.

Sarah has been recognized for her achievements. She was selected as the spokesperson for Genentech’s Cystic Fibrosis “Heroes of Hope Program” which recognizes unique individuals with cystic fibrosis who strive to live full, productive lives and serve as role models to others, while managing their own healthcare needs. Her exemplary commitment to community service has been recognized by the Boomer Esiason Foundation as a recipient of the Michael Brennan Courage Award, Eli Lilly as the “Young Champion Award” and as a “Volvo for Life Featured Heroes”, along with many others.

She relates extremely well with adults as well as with her peers. She has a respect for the individuality of others and a respect of differences which make people special. She is open, accepting and able to make her peers as well as others feel important and special. In many ways, Sarah is my hero.

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