Rhodes’ Personal Journey with Diabetes Inspires Him to Write a Children’s Book

Dec 11 2023

Rhodes Ritenour, our vice president of external and regulatory affairs, has the very important job of leading our Virginia hospitals’ public affairs initiatives.

Rhodes represents our ministry before local, state and federal governments, in communities we serve as well as to corporations. He also provides regulatory legal counsel and manages governance for our Richmond market.

Despite his current external-facing role within our ministry, Rhodes knows what it is like being a patient in the health care setting. This is because he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 5.

Rhodes has managed his diabetes for nearly 40 years by following a continuous treatment regime. He now wears an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor. But before this life-altering technology became available, Rhodes relied on sticking his fingers to test his blood sugar and insulin injections to manage his disease.

“I estimate that I’ve had more than 80,000 finger sticks, 20,000 injections and 1,000 blood draws,” he shares.

As a child, Rhodes says he would have loved a book about a boy living life to the fullest without diabetes holding him back. So, using his own experience, Rhodes and his wife, Alana, published their first children’s book this year! They hope the book will become a resource for those affected by diabetes and will entertain any young reader.

The planned series, titled “The Adventures of Rhodes and Alana,” is based in Richmond and follows Rhodes as an 8-year-old with type 1 diabetes.

“In ‘School Bus Secret,’ the first book of the series, Rhodes meets his best friend, Alana, and they set off on their first adventure,” Rhodes explains.

Missing the school bus leads to an exciting journey and an opportunity for Rhodes to tell Alana about living with type 1 diabetes. As a result, a new friendship is formed between these two spirited and confident kids.

The book is currently available at BBGB (Richmond, Va.) and online at, Barnes& and Amazon (for e-book). Proceeds from the book series benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), American Diabetes Association (ADA) and Diabetes Support Group, a national online diabetes community founded by the Ritenours in 2010. The support group provides practical advice, resources and encouragement to diabetics and those who support them. Additionally, Rhodes serves on the American Diabetes Association National Board of Directors, which he will chair next year, and Alana serves on the Mid-Atlantic Board of JDRF.

Since the book’s release, Rhodes has loved hearing from his colleagues about them enjoying it and with their children, grandchildren, neighbors and even patients.

“So many people have a connection to diabetes and can relate to 8-year-old Rhodes’ experience managing type-1 diabetes, or Alana’s desire to be a helpful and compassionate friend.”

Rhodes says he is also working with wife, Alana, on future books for the series.

“We are planning to publish books two and three in 2024,” he shares. “In them, Rhodes and Alana will have new, exciting adventures and will rely on their growing friendship to navigate challenges, like bullying from a teammate and managing new diabetes technology.”

As for Rhodes’ passion for writing these books, he hopes they give hope and encouragement to children and families who are dealing with a chronic condition like diabetes.

“Taking what we have learned and experienced over the years, and passing it along to others is our effort to provide good help to those in need!” he shares.

And with the holiday season in mind, Rhodes says he has much to be grateful for.

“I am grateful every day that diabetes is a disease that I can manage with help from those around me. I am also thankful for the science and technology that has empowered me to live a full and healthy life. I know many people who suffer from health conditions or care for those who are struggling.  I encourage others to count their blessings every day and perhaps even start their day with a moment of gratitude for the things they do have, the things they are able to do and the people who help them. A positive attitude has played a major role in the successes I have had in managing diabetes. Happy holidays, and God bless!”

This holiday season, we are celebrating by spreading the good news! Read more thankful stories, like this one, that feature our team members, patients and the wonderful communities we are blessed to serve.

Also, learn more about the health care services we provide at Bon Secours.

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