11. Erik Douds: A Pump, a Passport, a Passion

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“If you want to be happy, just be curious.” Erik Douds

Let’s set the record straight, people: Erik Douds was not kicked out of Seton Hall Prep for selling drugs.

While almost a decade later, the memory is all but completely forgotten, Erik remembers the rumor vividly. The made-up story began circulating when he was in the hospital. No, Erik was not kicked out of our high school for being a drug dealer. No, Erik was not kicked out of high school, period. Erik was absent because, after experiencing a sudden weight loss and visiting the doctor, he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

In chatting with Erik now, it’s no wonder he has a passion for curiosity. Curiosity fueled that pesky high school rumor. Now classmates, friends, and even strangers are lured in through that same curiosity by Erik’s wild adventure stories to ultimately understand the complexities of living with

With that said, in many ways, Erik’s story is a unique one. Nine years later, he explains his tale of the tape, or as he puts it, his “timeline of diabeteness" as follows:

  • October 1st, 2007 - Diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
  • 2008 - Started the Erik Douds Pediatric Diabetes Fund under Saint Barnabas Hospital. (Raised more than $20,000!)
  • 2011 - Began a blog to discuss the issues of a diabetic student at college - www.CollegeDiabetes.com.
  • 2016 - Visited Camp Nejada in NJ that is a specialized camp for Type 1 Diabetic children. Erik is one of their youngest donors, and with the help of  the Lions Club International, his fund provides camp scholarships for underprivileged children.
  • 2016 - Launched www.DiabetesAbroad.com.

In the same breath, Erik, who studied international environmental policy, is quick to share a map of the countries he’s visited.

This is all to say that, when I spoke with Erik in-depth about his story, it was abundantly clear that he wants people, diabetics and non-diabetes alike, to go on a journey of exploration. That journey can be intellectual, sitting down and learning from someone from a different walk of life. That journey can also be physical, lacing up your hiking boots and head into the backcountry. Erik has had the opportunity to do both and he wants diabetics to know that their diagnosis doesn’t need to stop them from being part of the world.

Erik puts it beautifully: “If you want to be happy, just be curious.”

He himself is a prime example. He has traveled to the horn of Africa and countries like Italy, Prague, Denmark, Ireland and New Zealand. The list is only getting longer and longer. He’s picked up sponsorship from major companies like WeWork and Snypex binoculars. Today, he is documenting each leg of his journey with Diabetes Abroad. Through Diabetes Abroad, creating the first travel notebook for the diabetic community, he provides terrific travel tips and scintillating stories, providing a platform for diabetics and to those who would normally think twice before booking a trip. 

While Erik's words are more than enough, the photos he’s sharing along the way speak for themselves and teach an important lesson: There’s so much out there to hear, to see, and to do, so, what are we waiting for?

 Erik captures a photo from the Otira Viaduct Lookout in New Zealand

Erik captures a photo from the Otira Viaduct Lookout in New Zealand

 Thanksgiving morning, a group of travelers on Fathom Cruises help pour a cement floor for a Dominican Family.

Thanksgiving morning, a group of travelers on Fathom Cruises help pour a cement floor for a Dominican Family.

 Erik and his childhood best friend hike the Te Araroa trail in New Zealand, sometimes fully embracing nature.

Erik and his childhood best friend hike the Te Araroa trail in New Zealand, sometimes fully embracing nature.

 Erik's and his dedicated travel partner (his diabetic pump) explore the biking capital of the world: Copenhagen, Denmark.

Erik's and his dedicated travel partner (his diabetic pump) explore the biking capital of the world: Copenhagen, Denmark.

Matthew Scott