Rancho Santa Fe family helps fight son’s diabetes through Christopher’s Foundation
econd Tee’d Off for a Cure tournament set for Sept. 15; pre-tournament wine event to be held Aug. 27By Karen Billing
The Schillings of Rancho Santa Fe are rallying for Type 1 diabetes awareness, research and an eventual cure after a life-changing diagnosis rocked their family two years ago.
In 2012, Christian and Sue Schilling’s son, Christopher, was diagnosed at age 7. They did not sit idle long, educating themselves and immediately starting Christopher’s Foundation to support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation San Diego and find a cure for juvenile diabetes.
“What the foundation is all about is connecting,” Christian said. “Connecting to a cure, connecting families and friends, and making people more aware.”
The connections have started young — 9-year-old Christopher has found strong support at his school, R. Roger Rowe, where last Halloween his classmates pooled all of their Skittles from their trick-or-treat haul because they knew the straight-sugar candy is perfect for when their friend’s blood sugar gets low.
At the end of the school year, when students paper the hallways with their goals and dreams, many of them touchingly included wishes for Christopher’s diabetes to go away.
The community awareness is a big first step. Now Christopher’s Foundation is looking for support at its second golf tournament.
The Tee’d Off for a Cure Invitational Golf Tournament will be held Monday, Sept. 15, at Morgan Run Club & Resort in Rancho Santa Fe. A $250 entry fee includes golf with a cart, range balls, live and silent auctions, a raffle and dinner. All players also receive a free swing analysis and a Peter Grimm hat.
A pre-tournament wine event, Uncorked, will be held at Sublime Tavern from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 27. Rancho Santa Fe resident-owned wineries Two Plank and Gen 7 will be at the event, as well as Fallbrook Winery and Rip Current Brewery, and Sublime will serve up a craft beer and wine pairing dinner. (Sublime Tavern is at 3790 Via de la Valle, #301, Del Mar.)
Access to the event requires attendees to bring a bottle of wine rated at 90 points or better, which serves as a donation for the silent auction held at the golf tournament.
Every day, 40 children are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in the United States — during the time spent playing a round of golf played in Christopher’s golf tournament, approximately eight children will be admitted to the hospital with Type 1 diabetes.
Before Christopher was diagnosed in June 2012, the warning signs were subtle. He was drinking a lot of water, and he kept having to wake up at night to use the bathroom. Christian thought it was normal, Sue was certain it was not.
“I just knew that something was wrong, I had a gut feeling,” Sue said.
She took Christopher to the hospital and after checking him out, they said Christopher needed to be admitted immediately to be stabilized. He was testing positive for diabetes because his blood sugar was very high.
Christian said their minds were wracked with questions. No one in their families had Type 1 diabetes. Where was this coming from, and why did it just come out of the blue?
“There’s no answer. It’s the unfortunate thing; it just happens,” Christian said.
Christopher stayed in the hospital for about a week while he and his parents became educated about how to manage his diabetes.
“I was just not ready; I couldn’t even talk about it,” said Sue of the emotional time. “I cried. All I did was cry. But I didn’t allow it to define us or stop our family from doing anything.”
She became determined to do something to help, reading up on nonprofits and fundraising. It became a family effort, because the diagnosis affected everyone, including Christopher’s twin brother, Matthew, and older brother Thomas.
“It’s therapeutic,” Sue said of the foundation. “The only thing you have control of is to help with research that will make his and others’ lives easier.”
Thanks to the “very calming” Dr. Thomas Kelly at Rady Children’s Hospital and resources provided by JDRF San Diego, the Schillings have gotten a handle on Christopher’s diabetes.
“Diabetes hit a child in our family that is strong enough to handle it. He’s a mature guy. He’s a numbers guy, and diabetes is a numbers game,” Christian said, noting how Christopher’s blood sugar must kept in balance in a range of 80 to 180.
“I’m incredibly proud of him because of the way he’s handled it. He’s been very positive, very focused, and he’s very disciplined.”
That’s not to say there haven’t been hard days. There are days when he gets tired of the monitoring and days of birthday cupcakes he just can’t have.
The monitoring is required for his health. Christopher typically must prick his finger eight times a day to test his blood. His parents test him during the night while he sleeps. If his levels are too low, they have to awaken him to have some juice or to rub raw sugar on his cheeks; if the levels are too high, he has to get a shot of insulin.
He takes two insulin shots a day, and when he’s in school, he frequently checks in with the school nurse.
“There are days that are really difficult, but for the most part, those days are few and far between,” said Christian.
“I feel like I’m fighting it,” said Christopher, who was an all-star in baseball last season and is a “phenomenal” basketball player.
He admits it feels great to see all the people come out and support him the way they did at last year’s tournament. While the tournament is not open to children, Christopher will take the first drive this year to kick off the round of play.
With Christopher’s Foundation, the Schilling family aims to do one fundraising event each quarter, and next year they would like to grant a wish for a local child with diabetes. They are proud to be affiliated with JDRF San Diego, which recently hosted a Promise Ball Gala that raised more than $1 million. Research is ongoing and San Diego company Dexcom is even working on an artificial pancreas.
“Hopefully, Type 1 will become Type None and that’s the day that we’re eager for — when diabetes is cured,” Christian said.
RSVP to the Aug. 27 Uncorked event at firstname.lastname@example.org. To register for Tee’d Off for a Cure golf tournament, visit