Carowinds is a place where friends, family and fun come together to melt away life’s worries. For almost 30 years, we’ve had the honor of hosting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's One Walk, giving kids a chance to have fun and forget about their daily challenges while also empowering them, and others supporting the cause, to raise money for the fight against type 1 diabetes (T1D). This year, the walk will be even more special, as JDRF honors the retirement of one of Charlotte's most beloved doctors.
More Than a Doctor
Dr. Mark Parker is a pediatric endocrinologist who boasts 40 years of service to the T1D community. Parker is known for providing his patients with detailed and comforting care. He puts both children and their parents’ minds at ease by making a scary diagnosis something they can conquer together. Parker is recognized for encouraging his patients to see beyond their disease and pursue big dreams.
Dr. Parker walks alongside his patients at Carowinds during a JDRF One Walk.
Dreams Do Come True
One of Parker’s patients, diagnosed with T1D at the age of 14, confided in him that he dreamed of one day becoming an endocrinologist too so he could help people struggling with his disease. In good confidence, Parker promised to hire him if he graduated. Years later, he stayed true to his word and hired Dr. Jakub Mieszczak right out of medical school as the newest member of his practice, truly helping his patient reach his full potential in life despite the challenges of his disease.
Dr. Mieszczak (left) and Dr. Parker (middle right) smile for a photo with a fellow doctor and Camp KUDOS staff member.
In addition to working with his own patients, Parker reached out to the greater T1D community in 1994 with the desire to establish a day-camp specifically for these children. Camp KUDOS is fully staffed with nurses, doctors, dietitians and anything else a T1D patient would need. The purpose of this camp is to give children a place where they don’t feel “different” and the opportunity to encourage each other. Over the years, Parker’s camp has grown to host 110 kids from four years old to the 8th grade.
Dr. Parker’s 6,000-person retirement party, and the JDRF One Walk, will take place on April 21 at Carowinds. To find out how to get involved, click here.