by Rod Evans
As vice president of Baytown-based Hotchkiss Disposal, Sammy Hotchkiss has plenty on his plate, but making time to do his part to help find a cure for diabetes is a no brainer.
For the second straight year, the family-owned business supports diabetes research and treatment programs by serving as the “Big Island Presenting” sponsor of the annual gala benefiting the Baytown Council of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation (JDRF), scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 25 at Houston’s Royal Sonesta Hotel. Hotchkiss and wife, Terri, had attended the soiree for many years before deciding in 2019 to increase their commitment to the cause.
“We are blessed to have the support of the community in our business,” Hotchkiss said. “This is our way of giving back to hopefully find a cure for this disease.”
Helping to further the JDRF’s mission is also a personal choice for Hotchkiss, who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2012.
“When you become a diabetic yourself, it changes your perspective pretty quick,” Hotchkiss adds.
With nearly 1.4 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes each year, funding research, including clinical trials, and advocating for faster regulatory approval of new devices for diabetics, to deliver a cure for diabetes and its complications is the primary focus of JDRF. In Baytown, the organization offers a support group for patients and families dealing with diabetes.
While being diagnosed with the disease certainly changed his life, Hotchkiss has approached managing it methodically in order to maintain his hectic life as a father and business owner.
“You learn to monitor your food intake to minimize the impacts,” Hotchkiss said. “Diabetes is life changing, but it does not stop life. You need to do your research so you can deal with it properly.”
While the gala offers a fun evening filled with dinner, dancing and live and silent auctions, Hotchkiss hopes that attendees will come away with a newfound appreciation for how the disease affects patients and their families, as well as the need for continued research and support systems.
“The gala is definitely a great social gathering for people coming together to enjoy a great night out, but it’s also a night for people to come together in support of the common cause of increasing diabetes research,” Hotchkiss said.
This year’s honorees are Laney-Grace Caylor, the 10-year-old daughter of Baytonians Jake and Courtney Caylor, and Darrell Lamb, 57, of Baytown. Caylor was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2015, while Lamb was diagnosed at age 27. Both will speak on their experiences in navigating the disease.