If opening his life up helps inspire one child with diabetes, Cory Conacher will be a happy man.
"Miracle, Baby," a documentary about how Conacher overcame diabetes to become a professional hockey player, debuts online Thursday as part of World Diabetes Day. Conacher hopes the 30-minute film will give hope to kids with the disease.
"Diabetes shouldn't interfere with anything in your life. It shouldn't have any affect on anything you want to do when you get older or the dreams you have," Conacher said. "I dreamed big as a young boy and my parents taught me to always stay positive, to stay humble, to take care of yourself.
"That's how I live every day, especially with diabetes, I made sure my numbers were good, my sugar levels were good."
Undrafted out of Canisius College, Conacher had several professional tryout contracts in the American Hockey League before landing with the Norfolk Admirals, then the minor league affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He was a critical part of Norfolk's 28-game win streak in 2011-12, a professional hockey record.
Conacher won the league MVP that season, only the fourth rookie to win the award since 1948, and has gone on to play 189 games in the NHL with the Lightning, Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders.
It was important for Conacher to share his story because he had been similarly inspired as a kid after meeting Ajay Baines, a player on the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs who had diabetes.
"As a kid I almost listened to him more than I listened to my parents because he did what I wanted to do when I got older," Conacher said. "He was a guy that I wanted to be like. I know that there are some kids that are hockey players that get diagnosed with diabetes that think their life is over or they can't play professional or competitive hockey anymore.
"He definitely made a difference in my life and if I could help just one person, that's the main goal."
The 29-year-old Conacher is back with Tampa's AHL team — now the Syracuse Crunch — and spends his off-seasons spending time with his family and volunteering at summer camps for children with diabetes. It was that work that caught the attention "Miracle, Baby" writer, director and producer C. Hudson Hwang.
"He sent me a message about how he's done films in the past, health documentaries, and how he was interested in doing one on diabetes," Conacher said. "He wanted to do one on my life and what it's like to live with diabetes play in the NHL. I contacted my dad and we both agreed to do it and the rest is history."
"Miracle, Baby" will be available at suprecontent.com/miraclebaby starting on Thursday and will be free to screen through the rest of Diabetes Awareness Month. It will also be available on SUPRE's YouTube channel for the rest of November.
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 13, 2019.