Anyone who has met Joe Madden will tell you that he has a passion to empower those living with diabetes.
Madden, whose son has Type 1 Diabetes, has harnessed his passion and created a smartphone application designed to help those living with diabetes. The application motivates those affected to check their blood sugar as part of a healthy care regiment.
Madden was given a crash course into the world of diabetes after discovering his son, Sam, who is 11 years old now, had Type 1 Diabetes. In January 2007, Sam and his family were on a trip to the snow when they realized something was wrong. During the trip, Sam's grandmother, who is a nurse, noticed Sam was drinking an excessive amount of water.
On the car ride home from Tahoe, Madden had asked Sam about the best part of the trip and Sam told his parents the best part was "drinking water."
Before the trip, Sam had seen his doctor for an unrelated stomach issue. The doctor ran tests before the Madden family left for the trip so by the time they got back to town, they got the call that the tests had revealed that Sam was diabetic, which helped explain his sudden thirst.
Madden says during the call about the test results, they were told that Sam's ketones were dangerously high and they took him to Children's Hospital in Oakland, where he stayed for four days.
"We were fortunate we were not a 911 call," said Madden.
From that point, Madden and his wife, Wendy, contacted the Juvenile Youth Foundation in Concord to get guidance. The non-profit foundation offers youth programs and summer camps for kids and families with Diabetes.
Four weeks later, through the Diabetic Youth Foundation, Sam traveled to Camp Arroyo in Livermore.
"Sam got to meet normal kids his age," said Madden. "The camp is staffed with adults who also have diabetes."
The Maddens wanted to know what they could do in the community to help. Madden is the son of well-known Pleasanton football coach and sports commentator John Madden.
Through Madden's own production company, Goal Line Productions, Joe Madden started out by creating videos for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to help provide education and outreach online. The videos also premiered at the fundraising gala for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
For Madden, the videos were not enough. Madden realized there are two major components to dealing with diabetes.
"You become two people," he said. "You want a cure, but you also have daily management of the disease. You are dealing with what is going on in the mind and body on a daily basis. We decided to split our resources on both."
During the time Madden was producing the educational videos for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, he was able to interview teens with diabetes. The common theme that began to emerge was that kids were getting tired of parents constantly asking them about their "number." Madden says the kids expressed they wished their parents would ask about how their day was rather than how their numbers had been.
Splitting the resources four years ago and learning from the kids, led to the creation of Gluco-Share, which is a free mobile phone application created for both diabetics and their caregivers.
After the diagnosis, Madden had been hesitant to leave Sam for an extended period of time.
"We were afraid to go out on date back then," Madden said. "Luckily, cell phones and smartphone apps were just starting to become available. There were a hundred phone apps for diabetics back then."
In his "spare time" Madden and his life-long friend, Jim Garcia, harnessed the knowledge they had gained along with the momentum of smart phone applications to design Gluco-Share.
Madden says there are many other great diabetes tracking phone apps out there but that Gluco-Share is more than just a tracking program.
Gluco-Share is a free mobile device monitoring service that helps the caretaker know the child's status or blood sugar number, even when the caretaker is not with them. According to Madden, just knowing your child's status is not enough. Madden needed to find a way to also help motivate kids to check in on the application, in addition to being motivated to check their number.
The Gluco-Share website says the application is designed to "empower the friends, families and colleagues of a person living with diabetes to adhere to his/her care regimen."
"Gluco-Share is for engagement and behavior modification," he said. "Gluco-Share users check blood sugar, share the information with someone they love and earn reward points for both themselves and their caregiver. You can track your points based on how you set up your goals. The 'Gluco-Points' are exchangeable at the market place."
Kids and their caregivers who check in on Gluco-Share can redeem the points at Electronic Arts, which offers game downloads, as well as through the Gluco-Share "rewards marketplace" beginning at the first of next year. Initially, Madden says the application was for kids and parents but will eventually expand to Type 2 diabetics as well.
"The goal is for the application to eventually be sponsored," said Madden.
Gluco-Share is expanding to the digital platform as well, according to Madden. "Gluco-Share will be available Facebook's app center before the year's end. It will be on a private, secure network- not on a 'wall' but rather a private portal that brings up the 'cloud services' so that anywhere in the world, you can go to the Facebook page and pull up our cloud services to help you stay in touch."
Madden plans to share this application tool for free with as many non-profit diabetes foundations as possible. Madden says there a millions of diabetics on the world.
"A typical phone app has at best a couple thousand downloads," he said. "We want to be a bigger support."
Download Gluco-Share for the iPhone at the app store. The Android version is still under development, according to the website. Learn more about Gluco-Share by visiting www.gluco-share.org or clicking here. "Like" Gluco-Share on Facebook.
November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and November 14 is World Diabetes Day.
Do you know the signs of Type 1 Diabetes? According to the Mayoclinic.com, symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes includes excessive thirst and urination, weight loss, fatigue and blurred vision.