TAMPA, Fla. — They came by the carload — parents and children toting sports gear, small bags with ever-present needles and glucose meters, and big dreams.
A thousand miles to the north, a weekend of Super Bowl-mania was reaching fever pitch in downtown Indianapolis. But at the University of South Florida, the story was all about families flocking to an event with far more meaning to them than the mega-hyped showdown between the New York Giants and New England Patriots.
On this weekend, it was all about Super Sam and the kids.
Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Sam Fuld earned his nickname last season with one sensational diving and leaping catch after the next, even spawning a team promotion with a blue “Super Sam” cape giveaway.
To anyone attending his inaugural Sam Fuld Diabetes Sports Camp on Friday and Saturday — where more than 100 Tampa Bay-area youngsters refined skills in baseball, softball, basketball, football, soccer, tennis and cheerleading — he earned it all over again. But this time, for a different reason.
Just like his high-flying defensive exploits, Fuld went above and beyond in an effort to empower children with Type 1 diabetes, to give parents much-needed insight for helping their youngsters cope with the disease — and provide hope for an athletic future with no barriers.
Nobody knows about that better than the 30-year-old from New Hampshire who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 10 but never let it hold him back. He excelled in all manner of competitive sports, became a baseball standout (not to mention a math wiz) at Stanford University and came to the Rays last year as part of a trade with the Chicago Cubs.