IDAHO FALLS, Idaho -

Thursday is World Diabetes Day. For the first time in Idaho Falls, an awards celebration was held for people living with diabetes.

Decades ago when people were diagnosed with diabetes, the life expectancy was a few days to a few years.

The awards given out Thursday symbolized how far modern medicine has come and the lives it has changed.

The event was the largest Journey Awards ceremony in the United States. The Journey Awards are given by pharmaceutical Eli Lilly and Co. to people living with insulin-dependent diabetes for 25 years or more.

Treating diabetes in Idaho Falls for more than 25 years is founder of Rocky Mountain diabetes Dr. Liljenquist.

"Many of them made it 50 years, they didn't used to think you could live 50 years with diabetes," said Liljenquist.

His patients will be among the 180 people to be awarded medals.

"It''ll be very exciting for me to watch them receive their awards tonight," said Liljenquist.

One of the physicians at his clinic, Dr. Carl Vance, said diabetes teaches people to live better.

"Many of our diabetic are going to live longer than their counterparts, they're more aware of their health, they're taking care of themselves at a younger age," said Vance.

Tina Case, a diabetic for 46 years, agreed with Vance.

"I have the world's worst sweet tooth especially for a diabetic. I got it from my grandma. I would be eating junk food and sugar if it weren't for the disease, so I try to eat healthier. I try to eat more fruits and vegetables because of it. I'm just healthier because of it," said Case.

"Many people either suffer from diabetes or know someone with diabetes, so a lot of us can appreciate the challenges they face," said Dave Noesges vice, president of sales for Eli Lilly and Co.

Dr. Vance said medicine has come a long way to manage diabetes, and he said in the next 15 years, there's a chance Type 1 diabetes could be cured with gene therapy.  

 25 million children and adults have diabetes in the U.S/ and another 12 million have it, but are not diagnosed.