Nanaimo Clippers defenceman Liam Visram has been named the January recipient of the Shaw BCHL Community Hero Award.
Visram, like the rest of his Clippers teammates, can often be found in the community throughout the year, spending time raising funds for the Salvation Army and other charitable initiatives. However, Visram recently went above and beyond when he went out of his way to make a huge impact in a young fan’s life.
In a game earlier this season, the 19-year-old from Langley, B.C., was making his way through the tunnel into the team’s dressing room when he overheard a young fan and his mother speaking with a team volunteer about diabetes — a cause that hits close to home.
Diabetes runs in Visram’s family and he’s been living with it himself ever since he was diagnosed as Type 1 at 13 years old. After confirming that the young fan is also living with the disease, he made an instant connection.
“I just talked to him about how I’m diabetic and it hasn’t really stopped me from doing anything and how I still love playing hockey,” said Visram. “I think it impacted him a lot.”
The child’s mother was so impressed that she wrote an email to the team to show her appreciation.
“She said she went home that night and her kid said, ‘Mommy, that hockey player does finger pokes [to test blood sugar levels], so I can do it too,’” said Visram. “I saw the email and sent it to my parents right away. I was really happy. It put a huge smile on my face. I can honestly say that I haven’t been that proud of myself in a while.”
Visram feels strongly about passing this message on to kids, because he understands what it’s like to be newly diagnosed and feel unsure about what kind of limitations it might put on him.
Since his interaction with the child and his mother and the positive reaction it received, Visram was inspired to continue to advocate for children with diabetes and began going to schools in Nanaimo, specifically to tell his story.
“Liam is a prime example of what you want in a young man,” said Clippers general manager Tali Campbell. “Since coming to our team in August, he’s always been one of the first guys to step up and help and has truly made a huge impact as a positive role model for others with diabetes.”
As the title sponsor of the Shaw BCHL Community Hero Award, Shaw has committed to donating $500 to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation on behalf of Liam Visram.
“Liam is proving that living with a condition like diabetes does not have to limit what you’re capable of,” said Chethan Lakshman, Vice President, External Affairs, Shaw Communications. “Kids need role models like Liam to show them that when they work hard, they can do anything they set their minds to — no matter what kind of obstacles they may be facing in their own lives.”
Visram wants to be a role model for these kids, just like other diabetic athletes, like Montreal Canadiens forward Max Domi, are to him.
“It never stopped me from playing hockey,” he said. “I kept playing, but that was the one thing that I was pretty worried about. I eventually got the hang of it. I use an insulin pump and it’s just a part of me now. It’s everyday life. I just find a way to balance it.
“My message to kids is that [diabetes] doesn’t stop me from doing anything and it won’t stop you. If you want it, you can do whatever you want. Don’t let it stop you.”