About a year ago I was scrolling through Instagram when I noticed quite a few of my Atlanta followers were posting beautiful photos captioned, “The Secret Garden Gala.” The mystique of the title combined with the aesthetic of the pictures, made me want to know more. After doing a bit of detective Instagram research (I’m a pro), I was happy to discover that it was not only a beautiful event, it was a purposeful one. The gala was created by Anjellica Sharpe of Heeling Diabetes, a non–profit organization that provides diabetics with a healthy and comfortable lifestyle, offering financial assistance for medications they can’t afford.
Founder Anjellica Sharpe was only sixteen when she was diagnosed with diabetes. “I remember I couldn’t walk around the track during PE class. I was just always so tired and thirsty,” she recalls of the time prior to her diagnosis. Since the disease runs in her family, it didn’t take long for her Grandmother to suspect it, and later for her pediatrician to confirm it. “My mom was really sad but I was only upset for about thirty minutes. I decided even then I was gonna take control of it, it wasn’t going to take control of me.”
Since that time she’s devoted her life to being an advocate for diabetes awareness, particularly in the black community. Every year JDRF (a diabetes research organization) hosts a walk to connect with members of the community. One year while participating, she was asked to come up with a team group name, and just like that Heeling Diabetes was birthed. A year later she created the organization behind it, feeling confident that God had called her to do so. However, it wasn’t until she was forced to pay over $1000 in medication fees, that she conceptualized it’s purpose.
Today Angellica creates charity events that fund medication for others, one of the most popular being the Secret Garden Gala. The mission of the event is to assist and award those making an impact in the community. One of Anjellica’s most rewarding moments was last year at the end of the gala, a woman confided in Anjellica that her transparency had encouraged her to personally be more involved in the community. “That made a major impact, just to know that I was able to encourage someone. The gala was a dream that turned into a vision. It’s definitely something we’re doing annually now,” she says. This year’s gala will be held on November 2, 2019.
While Anjellica admits that this has not been an easy road, she knows the journey has made her stronger. “Sometimes I still have days where I’m like, I don’t feel like being a diabetic today. I don’t want to check my blood sugar and I don’t feel like giving myself shots. But that’s what makes me stronger, you never know what you can or cannot do until you’re in that situation.”
What I gathered from my conversation with her, is that life is all about what you make it. She could have understandably let this make a negative impact on her, instead she used it to build herself while helping others. What curve ball has life thrown your way? How will you let it affect you?
Written by: Kirby Carroll Wright