by MICHELLE TREMBLAY | photos by Soul of Photography

Playing with Perseverance

student_naimark2About two years ago, Matthew Naimark’s parents noticed he was drinking an excessive amount of water during one of his basketball tournaments. The reason, they soon found out, was that Matthew had type 1 diabetes, a disease typically found in children where the body cannot produce insulin. “I had never missed a day of school so I was shocked to hear the doctor say I had diabetes,” recalled Matthew. Soon after his diagnosis, Matthew’s life underwent a major change as he tried to adjust to his new reality. “It was especially difficult to learn to manage blood sugars playing competitive sports because they fluctuated so much,” shared Matthew, who plays competitive basketball for his school.

As he starts his eighth grade school year at Oak Crest Middle School, Matthew is ready to take on anything. “I am proud that I have been able to adjust and continue to do all the things that I normally would have done before I was diagnosed,” said Matthew, who is a part of his school’s Assistant Student Body and has been the recipient of the Honors Math Award. “Diabetes is the first real adversity I have ever experienced and made me realize l really had to make significant changes in my life to stay healthy.”

Name: Matthew Naimark (12)
School: Oak Crest Middle School
Grade: 8
Parents: David Naimark and Patricia Lin Naimark
Sibling: Andrew (17)
Pet: Sachi
Favorite Spots in 92024: VG Donut & Bakery, Encinitas Community Center, Cardiff schools, Moonlight Beach, Maggie Houlihan Memorial Dog Park

student_naimark4Some of those changes include staying aware of how he feels, what he eats, and when he needs to take insulin. “I have to remember to always have my medicine with me to live a normal life,” noted Matthew. “I am not ashamed to have diabetes; I have learned to be responsible for my own health.”

Matthew draws inspiration from former NBA star Chris Dudley – who played professional basketball with diabetes and now runs a basketball camp for diabetic children. “When I got diagnosed, my mom reached out to him about his camp and I was lucky to get in a couple months after I was diagnosed,” explained Matthew. “It is the best camp experience to be with other kids who love basketball and to learn to manage our diabetes while playing.”

Matthew hopes his story too will inspire others fighting the disease. “I want to be able to help them push through the rough times,” shared Matthew. “Keep fighting and live the life you want to live. You have to make sacrifices to keep your body healthy and functioning.”


As for his own future, Matthew hopes to attend an esteemed college close to home and later become a doctor. “I want to try to give back in as many ways as I can to raise awareness and help diabetics,” added Matthew, “and keep playing basketball as long as I can.”