Back to Orlando 2007 Special Guest Jay Leeuwenburg
Special Guest - Jay Leeuwenburg

Jay Leeuwenburg started more than 120 National Football League games, played all five interior offensive line positions, and lined up against Hall of Famers Reggie White and Lawrence Taylor and many other fearsome opponents during a nine-year NFL career. But before any of that, he met Type 1 diabetes head-on.

Diagnosed just days after his 12th birthday, Jay immediately insisted that he be able to participate in any sports or activity he chose, including football. "To not participate," he says, "would be like saying, 'Don't breathe.'" He became an all-state player in high school and an All-American at the University of Colorado, and started at center in back-to-back national championship games against Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl. Between 1992 and 2000 he played for the Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts, Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Redskins, and never missed a down because of a diabetes-related complication. In 1996 he was one of pro football's first free agents, and for a time was the highest paid center in the NFL.

Through it all he overcame widespread ignorance and prejudice about diabetes, and learned so much about his disease as he managed its challenges that he became, in his doctor's coined description, a "diabet-ologist." Troubled by the absence of diabetic role models in athletics as he was growing up, Jay tirelessly shared his knowledge and resolve with children with diabetes and their parents throughout the United States during his almost decade-long pro career. Jay now teaches third grade at Colorado Academy in suburban Denver, and continues to inspire others affected by diabetes.

Jay will attend the 2007 Friends for Life Annual Conference and will participate in Sports Central. "Diabetes has not prevented me from enjoying a full and exciting life," he says, "and it doesn't have to limit you in any way either." For more about Jay and his book, go to

  Friends for Life 2007 Conference and Expo  
  Conference Intro - Faculty - Youth Faculty - Special Guests  
  Program Overview - Parents & Adults Program - Youth Program  
  Social Events - Focus Groups - Sports Central - Fun Run Pledge Sheet  
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  Childcare Registration: Word - PDF  
  FFL Reports from 2006 - 2005 - 2004 - 2003 - 2002 - 2001  

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Last Updated: Sunday November 11, 2007 10:19:26
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