BY ASHLEY D. THOMAS
Kendall Simmons is no longer tackling defensive players on the football field, but he’s tackling a different beast – type 1 diabetes. The former NFL player will be the featured speaker at a free diabetes seminar at the Center for Health and Wellness at Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center on March 5 at 2 p.m.
Simmons played in the NFL for nearly 10 years after being drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers as the 30th overall pick in 2002. Following his first season, Simmons was selected as the team’s rookie of the year.
Shortly before his second season began in 2003, Simmons was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and was not sure if he would be able to continue his football career.
Remarkably, with the help of team doctors and a strong support network, Simmons returned to the field that same year.
“My story is unique, but everybody’s story living with diabetes or some type of illness is,” Simmons said while at an American Diabetes Association Walk to Stop Diabetes last year.
Shares story with others
As he learned to manage his diabetes, he regained his strength and flourished on the football field. In 2005, he started all 16 regular season games and all four playoff games with the Pittsburgh Steelers, winning Super Bowl XL over the Seattle Seahawks.
Today, he has partnered with Novo Nordisk, a global healthcare company dedicated to diabetes care, to raise awareness of the importance of properly managing blood glucose levels and to demonstrate that diabetes can be successfully integrated into your life and ambitions.
Now retired from the NFL, Simmons is still very active in the diabetes community. He has spoken to children and adults with type 1 diabetes across the country to let them know that the disease can be managed. Simmons hopes that his story can be an inspiration to children and others with diabetes.
“I just try to use mine (his story) to inspire folks that no matter what you have going on in your life you take it with a grain of salt and find something positive out of it,” he said.
The free diabetes seminar will be held in the Medical Office Building, of the hospital, 305 Memorial Medical Parkway in Daytona Beach. Light refreshments will be provided. Reservations are required. To RSVP call 386-231-2229.