Jordan DePape is a brilliant hockey player, an avid volunteer for diabetes and other worthy causes, a full-time university student, and he has type 1 diabetes! How’s that for a full, rich life? Jordan, 24 years old, is currently in his fourth year as a student at the University of Manitoba, and is studying criminology. He’ll graduate in May 2017.
An avid hockey player since he was young, Jordan played in the Western Hockey League for five years as a right wing with the Kamloops Blazers. He currently plays forward for the University of Manitoba Bisons, where he is team captain. Last year, he led the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Canada West Conference in scoring. He was also named the 2015–2016 Canada West Men’s Hockey 1st team all-star, and the 2015–2016 2nd team CIS All-Canadian.
In addition, Jordan was the 2014–2015 recipient of the Canada West Student-Athlete Community Service Award for exhibiting excellence in athletics, academics and citizenship. He was also the 2015–2016 recipient of the University of Manitoba Male Student-Athlete Leadership and Community Development Award.
While he was scouted recently by both the American Hockey League and some European hockey leagues, he has opted instead to complete his studies. “I’m in my last year of university, with only six courses left,” he says. “I think it’s a good idea to have a degree to set me up for the future.”
Thinking forward, Jordan has developed a Plan A and a Plan B. “After graduation, I want to pursue professional hockey and see where that will take me; that’s Plan A,” he says. “However, if I don’t go pro hockey, then Plan B is that I really want to be a police officer or a corrections officer.”
Jordan is determined to give back to the community. In 2011, he joined the George Canyon and Friends Diabetes Heroes Tour. Canyon, a Canadian country singer who also has type 1 diabetes, organized an eight-city tour across the country – from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Prince George, British Columbia – singing for three hours at each venue and presenting free entertainment. He was accompanied by Jordan, as well as a Canadian para-snowboarder, a university student who is earning her recreational pilot’s license and a diabetes nurse educator. “That was a very special time for me and the other individuals on the tour,” recalls Jordan. “Talking to and inspiring other people with diabetes across Canada was incredibly rewarding.”
Jordan credits his parents as his first role models. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for them,” he says. “When I was diagnosed, I basically thought life as I knew it was over, but they always supported me and helped me when I needed it, especially during the first few years.”
Bisons head coach Mike Sirant is also a role model. “He has been a tremendous mentor to me, “says Jordan. “He has given me many opportunities, and helped me out both on and off the ice.”
Another important influence is Roger Berrington, who works with the Bisons as a chaplain and leadership coach. “Having diabetes, there can be days where I struggle,” says Jordan. “When I turn to Roger, he always guides me in the right direction.”
Berrington is also the founder and executive director of CanU, a Winnipeg-based charitable organization that inspires hope and confidence in high-risk children through programs in such areas as health, literacy and academic skills. CanU programs are designed and led by university student volunteers who are honing their leadership and community service skills. “I have been volunteering for CanU for three years and it’s very inspiring,” says Jordan. “We talk frequently to the kids about our goals and how we strive to reach them and overcome the obstacles.”
As for his diabetes management, Jordan uses the Animas® Vibe®, pump with continuous glucose monitoring (CGM). The pump, he says, is “Amazing! I did insulin injections until I was 18 years old, and was taking up to 10 needles a day,” he recalls. “When I got on board with the pump and CGM, it was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. It’s the closest thing to a working pancreas that I’ll have.”
For anyone considering pump therapy, Jordan offers this sage advice: “Go for it, but don’t jump into it,” he says. “Do your research, talk to other pump users and the pump manufacturers, and then make a decision.”
Finally, Jordan takes an insightful approach to diabetes with respect to life in general: “Diabetes might be a bump in the road, but it’s not an obstacle. If you have diabetes, don’t let it be an excuse to be a roadblock,” he says. “Tackle it head on, and don’t let it stop you from pursuing your dreams.”
Animas Canada first spoke with Jordan in 2011. You can read his original story here.
The inspiration section and articles have been made possible by and sponsored by Animas Canada.