Non-profit Spotlight: Bryce’s Buddies

Non-profit Spotlight: Bryce’s Buddies

The year 2008 proved to be a life changing time for the Duncan family of Winter Haven. Patriarch Shannon Duncan tells the family’s story: In July of 2008 our son, Bryce Duncan, was diagnosed with Type I Juvenile Diabetes. A rather quick series of events took place shortly after Bryce was released from the hospital.

Straight from being discharged from Lakeland Regional Medical Center we found ourselves sitting in Saint Joseph’s Medical Center in Tampa waiting to see his newly appointed endocrinologist. Our family sat, waiting to see the doctor, stunned and scared of what our future would hold. The bravest of all of us was the one affected most, 9-year-old Bryce.

After a heaping dose of do’s and don’ts, we left the office somewhat numb. Not a lot was said during the 45 minute drive to our next stop: the pharmacy.

This is where Bryce’s Buddies Juvenile Diabetes Foundation was ultimately born. You see, the pharmacy had mistakenly entered the wrong insurance code and during checkout, we were advised that our monthly deductible for his needed medical supplies would cost nearly $900. To be honest, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and Brandy, Bryce’s mom, had a minor “meltdown.” To the relief of the Duncan family, the pharmacy ultimately found and corrected the problem.

Fast forward nearly two weeks later, Bryce climbed in my lap and said he had a question about diabetes. I was expecting to answer questions about food intake, his personal health, or some other personal questions. This was not the case.

Bryce told me that he saw his mother’s reaction at the pharmacy some two weeks earlier and wanted to know what happens if parents of other kids with diabetes can’t afford their medication. Actually, the exact question was, “Do they die?”

Before I could offer a complete answer, he added that we “cannot let that happen,” and that we, “need to do something to help those kids.” Wow. This coming from a 9-year-old who himself was recently diagnosed.

In October of 2010, Bryce’s Buddies Juvenile Diabetes Foundation was founded as a non-profit 501(c)(3).

Developed to assist families with children that have been affected by Type I Diabetes, the goal of Bryce’s Buddies is to help diagnosed children and families live a normal life. Bryce’s Buddies lends a hand by means of education, finance, support groups, and our newly created Diabetic Alert Dog (DAD) program.

In recent years, Bryce’s Buddies has provided affected families with scholarships to attend diabetic summer camps and diabetic sports camps. Our latest support group gathering was held on the shores of Daytona Beach, were nearly 100 family members met to enjoy a weekend of fun, and diabetes education at no cost. Insulin pumps, diabetic supplies, doctor office co-pays, and even gift cards for food and gas have been provided to our families.

In 2014 the foundation purchased two diabetic alert dogs (DADs) from Tattle Tail Scent Dogs in Salt Lake City, Utah. One of the dogs was placed with a local college student attending college away from home in Georgia. This student had issues with her blood sugar dropping to dangerous level during the night. The placement of Diabetic Alert Dog, named Armor, has improved this young college student’s quality of life, and lends a piece of mind to her family while she is away at college. Bryce’s Buddies DAD program is something the foundation plans to grow in the near future.

Bryce’s Buddies is funded primarily using proceeds from the Wingin’ It Festival, a competition chicken wing cookoff that pits the best backyard and pro (restaurant) teams in Central Florida. Now in its third year, Wingin’ It will be held April 10 and 11, 2015, at the Winter Haven Airport. For more info about Wingin’ It visit

For more info about Bryce’s Buddies visit the Facebook page of Bryce’s Buddies.