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Packers tight end Crabtree fights brave battle with his wife

CREATED Apr 30, 2012

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GREEN BAY - On the football field, he's known as Number 83: Tight End Tom Crabtree. At home, he's a hands-on husband and father--helping his wife manage a disease she's had since childhood.

Chelsea and Tom Crabtree have been married since 2009. They recall ths day they first met.

"We met the summer before our Junior year in high school. One of my friends was dating his cousin," Chelsea says.

Tom adds, "I think the first time I saw her I was playing basketball in the gym, and she came walking through with the rest of the cheerleading squad - and that was it!"

Smitten at first sight, it didn't take Tom long to realize something else was different about Chelsea. Tom learned she has Type 1 Diabetes.

"It really didn't scare me. If anything, I was more interested and eager to learn about it than anything," he explains.

Type 1 is an auto immune disease that is not preventable. A person's body destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, requiring them to be dependent on insulin to survive. Chelsea learned she was diabetic at the age of 4.

"I became aggressive with my sisters, showing signs of being thirsty, and using the bathroom a lot. My mom and dad noticed something was off. They took me to the doctor, checked my blood sugar, and it was so high, it wasn't registering on his machine," Chelsea recalls.

Things changed for Chelsea. She wasn't allowed to eat anything with sugar in the top three ingredients. She had to wear an insulin pump, and test her blood sugar daily--something Tom also had to learn.

"He checked my blood sugar from the beginning. Gave me injections, changed my pump site for me. He's done it all very bravely," Chelsea exclaims.

With a new baby just born Sunday, and a 1-year-old at home, 'Team Crabtree' has decided to go public with the battle.

"We got involved with JDRF, which specializes in finding a cure, and treating type 1 diabetes," Tom explains.

This May, JDRF will hold it's annual Walk To Cure Diabetes.  The Crabtree's are 'walk ambassadors'. Julie Kersten is the Executive Director of the Northeast Wisconsin Chapter of JDRF.

"We have such great supporters that help us in our mission, and they can network. It makes a world of difference for them to have a support system," Kersten says.

A support system that's there every step of the way--Start to finish.

Chelsea says, "We're blessed in a way that diabetes is something you can live with. If you take the time and effort, and it does take a lot of work."

Tom adds, "With this disease you kinda, it's there everyday, you see it everyday--checkin the blood sugar, taking shots, it's definitely a brave thing, and yeah.. I'm very proud of her."

Chelsea is far from alone. More than 3-million Americans currently live with Type 1 diabetes, and 80 people are diagnosed each day.