Manny Hernandez is the 2019 recipient of the Living with Diabetes IDF award. He received the award and spoke on Thursday, December 7 at the BEXCO Convention Centre in Busan, Korea where the IDF Congress 2019 was held.
Manny, who has lived with diabetes since 2002, is internationally known as a recognized diabetes advocate. Between 2007 and 2015, he co-founded the Diabetes Hands Foundation (DHF), a nonprofit community developed for people with diabetes. Under his leadership, DHF became a global leader in diabetes social media, and an influential group in diabetes advocacy. Since 2015, Manny has held a variety of roles at Livongo, where he is currently leading efforts tied to community. We met Manny so he could share his beginnings and explain how his passion for diabetes advocacy all started.
What did you think when IDF contacted you and said, we want to give you the “Living with diabetes award”?
I was very humbled. I was not expecting it. I mean, there’s, you know, any number of amazing people that deserve it.
Most people know you as the heart of Diabetes Hands Foundation and TuDiabetes. Can you talk about that?
When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I was really alone. I knew no one with my condition so I was isolated. My wife Andreina and I decided to create something. We thought that it would be great to have a bilingual community for diabetes, but it didn’t work out that way. Tudiabetes was created as an English only community and we created another community completely separate called EsTuDiabetes, which is entirely in Spanish. The two co-existed but were separate groups. Each community was developed for anyone, anywhere, who lived with any type of diabetes.
What were the DHF’s early days like and how did everything evolve?
At first the community skewed heavily towards people with type 1 diabetes, no small part because that was the population that was out there looking for support resources. By the time I left the foundation, I think we had something like 60 or 70 percent members who lived with type 2 diabetes.
TuDiabetes and EstuDiabetes became a place that served as a resource for people. This was very exciting because that was the intention. People began to talk about diabetes and participate in conversations about their health and their emotions, and life with a very serious condition. We had members but we also had people who stopped by to get information, and that was a huge part of the community.