Taking Flight: Diabetes does not Ground Callie Compton

According to the American Diabetes Association, 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes every year. There are two types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2. Both are chronic diseases that affect the way your body regulates blood sugar, also known as glucose. Glucose is the fuel that feeds the body’s cells by way of insulin. Type 1 diabetics do not produce insulin. Type 2 diabetics do not respond to insulin properly and/or do not make enough insulin. 

In 1997, Callie Compton, who is now 24, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Because of this diagnosis, she wears an insulin pump that continuously delivers insulin into her body. She also has an implanted glucose monitor that measures her blood glucose levels every five minutes and sends the readings to her phone. The implanted sensor is surgically changed every three months by her endocrinologist, Dr. Kashif Latif of AM Diabetes.   

For many diabetics, Callie included, insulin is of utmost importance. “It isn’t optional; it’s our life support,” Callie notes. While life for people with diabetes has drastically improved over the years, there is still no cure and the cost of insulin continues to rise.

As a child, Callie had ambitions of becoming a pilot. However, in middle school, she learned that insulin-dependent diabetics could not receive pilot’s licenses (this has since changed). Little did she know that just a few years later she would fall in love with a different type of flying—aerial acrobatics. “After my first class, I told the instructor I was going to do this for the rest of my life.”

In February 2015, Callie founded her own professional aerial and circus performing and instruction business, Weightless Aerial Company. Providing family-friendly entertainment for events, Weightless Aerial Company offers aerial acts, fire acts, stilt walking, partner acrobatics, LED hula hooping, juggling, and more.

In addition to running her own company, Callie has performed in shows across the country and led workshops at conferences throughout the United States, such as the bi-annual American Circus Educator’s Conference and the State Thespian Society Conference. She has also served as the lead studio instructor for On The Fly Productions in St. Louis, the program director for aerial at ConXion Gym in Mississippi, and the lead choreographer of aerial pieces for Theatre Memphis. Her performance history includes the Shrine Circus, Circus Kaput, Valeria’s Wings, Starfish Circus, and the Aerial Angels. 

When asked what she enjoys most about aerial acrobatics, Callie says, “The complete feeling of freedom…there is nothing like flying and feeling weightless.” Watching her students succeed and being an active part of a community bring Callie tremendous pride. “I will jump up and down with excitement for a student who nails a trick they’ve been working on,” she says.

Callie is no stranger to challenges, and she accredits much of her success to those challenges and her diagnosis. Over the past few years, she has lost two of her dear friends to diabetes. These losses put the disease into perspective and how real it is.

“I am more determined than ever to succeed not just in spite of diabetes, but also because I live with something that makes me mentally tougher, stronger, and fiercely motivated.”

Callie’s next adventure will be graduate school for her masters and subsequent PhD. Her long-term goal is to teach at the collegiate level, implementing aerial programs at colleges and universities.

To learn more about Weightless Aerial Company, visit

Facebook: Weightless Aerial Company, LLC

Instagram: @weightlessaerialco

By Halle Griggs. Photo by JoLaura Bell.

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