Flag football was more than just a Saturday morning exercise for the 40 teams who competed in the Sugar Free Bowl, which raised money and awareness for juvenile diabetes research.
Delta Epsilon Psi hosted the eighth annual event at the UT Intramural Fields. This year, the fraternity will donate $10,000 for diabetes research to the American Diabetes Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Type 1 diabetic Vishal Bhagat, member of Delta Epsilon Psi, started the bowl in 2002 as part of the fraternity’s philanthropic efforts.
After Bhagat died in a drowning accident in 2006, his family and friends founded the Vishal Raju Bhagat Foundation, which raises money to support diabetes research and financially aids Sugar Free Bowls across the nation.
After Bhagat’s death, the fraternity revamped the Bowl, which continues to be one of Delta Epsilon Psi’s main philanthropic events.
UT alumnus Rupesh Shah was a new member of the fraternity when Bhagat died. He said although he did not know Bhagat personally, Shah still works with the foundation and has a close relationship with Bhagat’s family.
“[The Sugar Free Bowl] was something Vishal started when he was in college, so after he passed away we wanted to carry his legacy on,” Shah said.
Aerospace engineering senior Daniel Parrott said he had perfect vision until his senior year, when he started experiencing symptoms of Type 1 diabetes including a loss of vision, strange feelings in his feet and weight loss. Since then, he must inject himself several times a day with insulin shots to stabilize his blood sugar level.
“It’s a little nerve-racking at first to give yourself the shot for the first time,” he said. “I had to sit there for like 15 minutes just psyching myself up just to stick it in. But after a while, you get used to it.”
Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 9 years old, biology junior Sam Deaton said the worst part of being diabetic is worrying about his unpredictable blood sugar level.
“The biggest part of diabetes isn’t the worry of future complications, the finger pricks, of which I do at least 10 times a day, the necessity of carrying sugar with me 24/7 or even taking an exam with a high blood sugar, which has been shown to inhibit cognition,” Deaton said. “It is how constantly, every hour of every day, regardless of what else I have going on, I am thinking about what my blood sugar is doing.”