Share your Manny stories!

In light of the recent news that Manny Hernandez, co-founder and President of Diabetes Hands Foundation, is stepping down, the TuDiabetes volunteers and I would like to create a thread for members of this community, which Manny started, to share their stories and memories about him. It's an opportunity for those of us who have worked, played, talked or just crossed paths with Manny to share those experiences with each other, and also a gift from the TuDiabetes community to Manny, in thanks for creating this beautiful space that we all share.

So the floor is open! Please share your stories! Manny is an incredibly friendly, charismatic and colorful guy, near and dear to many of our hearts, so we know you'll have a lot to say :)

This was during a video chat with Manny and Emily a few years ago...I don't know HOW it came to suggest that Manny should wear a kilt, but Manny kelp calling it a "quilt".
I know what having Eng as a second language is all about!! One tough word to wrap my tongue around was "squirrel", and to this day I have to say the word "aurora" slowly so as to pronounce it properly! ;)
Bless you Manny....I hope to see you leisurely partaking in discussions etc.

I'd like to share some highlights through some blogs of the first time I met Manny face to face. Manny and I have become really good friends, and while we interacted a lot here at TuDiabetes and on the phone, it wasn't until 2012 that I finally met him face to face. Joslin hosted a Diabetes Innovation conference and Manny was the speaker. You can read about my experience here and here. I've enjoyed meeting many since then and we have become good friends.

Some of the things I learned about Manny endear me to him forever and make him truly a hero. Manny is a great communicator. We don't always appreciate it. Sure he has an accent and says some words funny. But Manny stood up to many, many audiences of health care professionals, government, industry and payors and spoke with a voice of a patient. And they listened, heard and understood (well at least many). We don't always appreciate how much this is an accomplishment, for much of our history patients with diabetes have been nameless faces shuttled in and out of appointments, given treatments and procedures and nobody has any clue about why it is so darn hard to deal with diabetes as a patient. There our certainly others who have done a great job communicating this message as well, not to belittle their accomplishments. But Manny truly stands our as someone who can stand up and communicate what it is like to be a patient to a crowd of stern faced doctors and educators and leave them changed people when they leave the room. If you had seen him at the Diabetes Innovation conference keynote you would understand.

I'd also like to note that Manny knows absolutely everybody and he can talk to absolutely everyone. I don't know where he met all these people and how he keeps them all straight. I still struggle considering certainly people and organizations as my adversary, but Manny considers everyone his partner.

And Manny has more energy that anyone, I don't know what kind of coffee he drinks, but he just goes and goes. Doesn't he get tired?

And finally, I'd like to know exactly what he keeps in that backpack. I know he keeps his entire life in that backpack and it must weigh 150 lbs. I don't know how he hasn't hurt his back. What is in that backpack? Has Manny stopped carrying around that backpack?

OMG. I can't even begin to tell you how many words I mispronounce... :D

I would LOVE for Mike to create a compilation. You will laugh so hard! :)

Brian, you are amazing, brother. I treasure our friendship too!

To answer some of your questions:
- About the names, I have gotten quite a few off. It helps when you are in a conference and people wear badges: I am not embarrassed to look at their badge. ;)
- Coffee: too much! I am on my third cup this morning. I know... not a good thing. :(
- The backpack: actually, I've "upgraded" to a travel/laptop bag that Andreina got me a couple of Christmases ago. I have managed to pack into it all I could need for up to a 2-day long travel. This has turned me into a friend of ironing (something I used to hate, and now I surprisingly enjoy), because naturally all clothes get super-wrinkled in there. :)

I should take a picture of Santiago (my son) with his backpack (he inherited my previous one). He LOADS it, I mean LOADS it, in a way similar to how I must have looked like. You would enjoy the sight: like father, like son, I guess! ;)

When I joined a few years ago, Manny's mantra of no one touched by diabetes should ever feel alone hit me right between the eyes. I had spent at least 20 years with D looking for others just like me, to no avail.

Below is a video from a band in the 90's that really only had one hit. But, this "hit" meant a lot to me. The little girl spends most of the video searching for others like her, all the while being teased, made fun of and falling down. She finally opens the gates and sees others just like her. I felt like this little girl my entire life until I opened the gates of TuD.

My very first days on the job here at DHF were actually spent at an AADE conference in Las Vegas, with Manny. I was beyond overwhelmed. For 3 days I followed Manny from early-morning breakfast meeting to mid-morning breakfast meeting to late-morning breakfast meeting.... He fired names of people and organizations at me like a machine gun, and I'm pretty sure 90% of them bounced right off my brain. Each day went late into the night, usually concluding with a final meeting over drinks at about 11:30pm. And all the while, Manny was happy and engaging and fun to be with. It's just not possible, this man's wealth of love and energy and positivity to share with others. By the end of each day I was a wasted shell of a person, desperate to crawl into bed and unable to squeeze out even one more smile, and Manny was still telling jokes and giving hugs. Manny, you're a truly gifted people-person :)

I found TuDiabetes in early 2008, looking for answers, like so many members here. In those days, Manny welcomed new members, and he almost immediately pm'd me a welcome, and inquired if any of my quilts might be for sale to use as a prize on TuDiabetes (hey, if you don't ask.....). I was quite flattered, and answered back to him that I was very inspired by the Word in Your Hand project, and it totally got me thinking about making it a quilt, which actually happened later. Immediately I was befriended by Doris and the AMAZINGSandy and lots of other regulars, and quickly got hooked on TuDiabetes. It wasn't long before I was welcoming new members and volunteering for things.

In 2009, I had a chance to meet my hero while we were on a vacation that included San Francisco. I don't think I could have been more excited meeting Bruce Springsteen. It was a perfect day, and now a golden memory. I have had two other opportunities, once in NYC when we had a big rally when the UN was going to be featuring non-communicable diseases and another at a meetup in Philadelphia, when I also got to meet the INCREDIBLE jrtpup. To all of you out there, don't pass up an opportunity to meet Manny, he really does give the BEST #BigHugs

In 2011, Manny asked if I would make a quilt to represent DHF at the CWD's Friends for Life conference. I worked on this quilt for many months, happily, and when time came to send it off, I felt the pangs of impending separation (something I am feeling even more intensely right now), but when Manny got the quilt, he made a video of it that touched my heart deeply. Seeing him touch the quilt so lovingly (after a scary bit opening the box with a knife) still makes me tear up. By the way, If you go to FFL anytime and see the quilt, I'd still love to see a picture of you with it. also, you have my permission to touch it. I spent a lot of time putting secret messages into it, and it has magic powers (wink).

I am fully convinced that Manny is going to do even more amazing things for those of us touched by diabetes. I am so proud to call him my friend.

Thanks Marie, that is really magical. I was blessed to be able to contribute to the quilt and see it at FFL 2014. I was there for Masterlabs and bluffed my way through the door to the exhibit hall and snap some pictures of the quilt (note that they don't let you take drinks into the area, let alone touch the quilts). Note that just to the right of my elbow is the square Marie made for me.

the only thing that drives me crazy about it is how they hang them. I put a special split sleeve on the back so it could either be hung on suspended poles (which is how most quilt shows do the display) or it can also be hung like a picture, from one hook in the wall. anyway, small potatoes. it must take them quite a while to put them all up. nice picture!

I don,t know manny too well but his smile speaks for itself
We,ll all miss you
With love

I met Manny in Chicago, at the ADA Scientific conference in 2013. I'd helped Emily find a good spot for a TuShindig and the spot (The Gage...) worked out great, with a stylish room on Michigan Avenue. I think we met the day before at a cocktail party, I wore my glasses (to which I've transitioned 100% of the time) and was like "hey Manny" and he was like "hi!" but didn't recognize me but then somebody else, maybe Scott Johnson said "Manny, Mike Barry!" or something like that and we got our Tu-groove together!

Here is a picture of Manny at AADE 2013 during one of his finer moments. Some people might think he was doing a "stunt" to drum up in interest in the big blue test, but he wasn't. He was just being Manny.

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Wish I could meet Manny. What an incredibly warm human being :)

Like I have said, I've been right at Manny's side for a long time. Even in quilt form! Haha

I joined TuDiabetes in the summer of 2008, looking for answers on how to get my A1c in range for pregnancy. The very first comment on my profile? From Manny.

He has an incredible warmth and charm that draws people to him and a talent for seeing the worth and potential in each person he meets. He tapped me for the admin team within a few months of my joining the community (along with Kristin) after I sent him an email on how to deal with internet trolls.

The first time I met Manny and Andreina, Kevin and I flew to Palo Alto from Dallas and Manny and I staffed a table at TCOYD. We watched our CGMs duel it out after a questionably carb-counted lunch and it was like we had known each other forever. And I was so proud to show off my long-awaited pregnancy to the guy whom my kids now call "Uncle Manny."

Little did I know then what that connection would continue to mean for my life. I have been a part of practically every endeavor of DHF - from training the admins, to writing the script for one of the BBT videos, judging the poetry contests, serving on the Board, doing TWO personal fundraising campaigns (both including music videos!), helping steer Diabetes Advocates, representing us on Capitol Hill, and now - my biggest job yet - carrying the torch he has lit so brightly. Manuel, you are a personal hero of mine and I will not let you down, brother.

Love Blind Melon!!!

HUGS, Sarah!


I remember when I met you. I thought it was hilarious that someone would bring their newly adopted dog (Pup) to their job interview, but you did: and I loved it.

When I interviewed you, you had zero experience as a Community Manager, but you had the passion, dedication, and people-person-ness (is that a word??) that a successful community Manager requires. And look at you and how the community has continued to thrive under your leadership!

It's an honor to meet you, and a pleasure to work alongside you, girl.


Who says it can't happen, huh???

My sister-in-law now lives in Vancouver with her husband.
This December the World Diabetes Congress will be there... and I will be attending.
Does that give you any ideas? ;)

I think this pic was at that AADE, wasn't it?