Teen becomes ambassador for diabetes awareness

Francis Selldorff was named the 2018 Merritt J. Levitan Youth Ambassador for Joslin Diabetes Center.
Francis Selldorff was named the 2018 Merritt J. Levitan Youth Ambassador for Joslin Diabetes Center.

Francis Selldorff had just begun the eighth grade in 2014 when the extreme thirst, fatigue, weight loss, fainting spells, and other symptoms he had been experiencing culminated in a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes.

“I didn’t know anything about diabetes,” recalled Selldorff, now a junior at Belmont Hill School. “It was a rough start to the year.”

A patient at Joslin Diabetes Center since that time, Selldorff is giving back to the medical facility as its 2018 Merritt J. Levitan Youth Ambassador. In this role, the Boston resident advocates for diabetes awareness, educates others about the center, and acts as a spokesman at various events throughout the year.


In addition to receiving the honor at Joslin’s High Hopes Gala in Boston on Nov. 4, Selldorff presented the Global Achievement Award to his physician, Dr. Lori Laffel, chief of the pediatric, adolescent, and young adult section at Joslin.

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“Dr. Laffel is more than just a doctor,” Selldorff said. “She has an amazing way of connecting with her patients. She really got to know our family and does everything she can to make sure I can have a normal life.”

For Selldorff, that means continuing to perform well in school, ice hockey, and sailing competitions in the summer. On average, he says, he checks his blood sugar level five to eight times a day and makes adjustments accordingly to the insulin administered though a waterproof pump. If the level is considerably out of range in either direction, he is careful to stop what he is doing until it is corrected.

“One of the biggest things diabetes has taught me is the importance of taking care of myself,” Selldorff said.

In order to raise awareness of the disease among his peers, Selldorff plans to organize a dance at his school that will also raise funds toward finding a cure.


“I’m looking forward to sharing my knowledge with other people,” he said. “It’s so important to bring attention and awareness to diabetes because you never know if you or someone you know might develop it later on in life.”

Cindy Cantrell

Cindy Cantrell can be reached at cindycantrell20@gmail.com.