JDRF 2015 Telus Walk To Cure Diabetes

jdrf walk
I have been involved in a number of walks to raise money to support diabetes charities over the years.  I have organized walks. I have fund raised for walks.

This year I was asked if I would take some time to learn and write about the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Walk to Cure Diabetes.  I am always willing to promote diabetes related events so I gladly said yes.

My son has never been involved in a JDRF walk.  When he was younger, outreach had not yet made it to our small community but we did experience the value of getting together with families living with diabetes.  Being able to see other people testing their blood, counting their carbs, injecting or pulling out a pump was a great way for us to feel less alone. I therefore knew that an event such as the JDRF Telus Walk to Cure Diabetes would mean a lot to a lot of people.

In order to fully understand what is involved in a walk, I was invited to attend the Community Engagement luncheon in our city back in March.  Despite an impending spring snow storm, the room was full of amazing people and incredible energy. It was a wonderful experience to sit and listen to people who lived with diabetes and those who didn’t explain why they were involved in the walk.

I sat at a table with one of the walk’s Youth Ambassadors.  She was a lovely young girl who felt that her diagnosis had opened many doors for her.  A new volunteer also sat with us.  She did not have diabetes herself and was thankful that her child did not have the disease either. She was there because of a friend.  Her friend’s child was living with Type 1 diabetes.  After seeing up close what it was like to live with diabetes, she wanted to do her part to help fund raise for a cure.

It has been over two months since I went to the engagement luncheon.  I have begun to see walk teams’ shirts and donation pages appear on my Facebook feed.  I see people searching for new ways to raise money and I notice the excitement building as they look forward to getting together with friends at the event in June.

The JDRF’s theme for this year’s walk is in keeping with their new motto of turning type one into type none.  They are asking participants  “What Type are You?” They want those involved to share what type they are using the saying “I am the ___ type.” on their fundraising page.  JDRF employee and awesome person living with Type 1 diabetes, Alanna has stated that she is the “I don’t want my job any more type“.  A friend and fellow advocate has indicated that her team is the “we can achieve anything type“.

According to the JDRF website, there are over 70 walk sites this year with over 45,000 participants.  If you are interested in finding out more about a walk in your area, click here and then select your region.  Walks are scheduled for June 14th but check with your walk location for the exact time and place.

If you are not interested in walking this year but would still like to get involved, contact your local JDRF chapter.  Volunteers are always required to make events like this special for everyone involved! If you can’t make the dates, don’t forget that you can still donate to many of the great teams online through various safe pay options..I did!

Diabetes Walk for Hope…Part one

First let me appologize. My blogging has been pretty spotty lately.  June is always a terrible month for me. I am super busy with commitments for my childrens’ schools.  This June we have had the added pressure of a move and an uncertain moving date so my life has been thrown into an even greater state of chaos than normal. 

Admidst the chaos however, there is always a bit of consistency.  That conisistency is the incredible flood of emotions that always takes place during and after my son’s school annual diabetes walk. 

For those who don’t know, my children go to very small schools. My child with Type 1 diabetes has about 50 students in his school from kindergarten to grade 8.  Each year these students go out and raise money with one thought in mind…diabetes. For some this means that they are walking for a family member and for others it means that they are walking for my child.  No matter who is their inspiration, their efforts reduce me to tears every year. 

As I walked through the halls of the school on walk day, the first tears began to swell.  I had been grumbling about the lack of sanity on my part for taking on such an ambtious job in the walk t-shirts for this year. They were very labour intensive and I do not have a lot of spare time at this moment in my life. Someone suggested that this was a waste of my time because the kids would only toss their shirts in the drawer, never to be worn again.  I knew better.  This walk proved it once again. You see each year when our kids walk, you see a variety of walk t-shirts strolling through the halls of the building. They have various walk t-shirts on that they have earned over the past seven years.  It warms my heart to “see” their support. 

They don’t do this for the prizes.  They never know what they will be getting this year.  T-shirts are given out based on how much money they earn and they don’t get their shirts until the last day of school (it helps with students like my own son who forget to get all their money from their sponsors on time).
The tears began to flow for real when I started to open the bags of money and read the sponsor sheets.  We live in an area of high unemployment and retirement.  The school now sees two or three children from one family trying to all collect the same monies. Despite all of that, there were still amazing amounts raised by children from all levels. Kindergarden students who have never been a part of this event raised amazing amounts of money.  Older students walking for their family members sent me to even more tears. 

As I look forward to moving on with my life, I look back at this school and the tears flow like never before.  They have been so very, very good to us in so many ways.  They have been more than a source of education. They have been a family who were there for us every step of the way.  They have made a huge difference in our lives and saying “see you again another day” this Friday will be one of the hardest days I have had in a very long time!  I have been so very blessed to have know the staff and all of the students who have wandered those halls over the past 12 years. 

Gettin’ into the groove…one last time

School year end is always a busy time for any family.  There are final exams for some students.  There is the countdown to no more school lunches and the joy of no more homework fights for a few months.

I am very involved in my youngest son’s school and have been since my oldest child started there…well a few years ago.  The school is very special and works hard to make the school atmosphere very much a family one.  The end of the year therefore becomes exceptionally heck tick.  We have a day at the park when the parents enjoy the sun and then barbeque for the students. There is sports day when I wonder if Liam will sweat off his infusion site or if we have it stuck with enough Mastisol.  There is the year end festival which evolved from a year end concert into a fabulous day of games, food and entertainment.  

The most special of all days, for me, is the Diabetes Walk day.  This day began seven years ago.  We would go to the teachers each year and ask for their support in our fundraising efforts for a diabetes walk in another town.  One year, Liam’s teacher said that she would not sponsor us.  She wondered instead if we would be okay with the school doing its own walk for the cause.  I was overwhelmed and so appreciative. 

We live in a very small, rural area.  It was once known to have the highest rate of unemployment in Canada. I don’t know if we still hold that infamous title but many of the families living here are retired or single income. When the first walk took place, we had less than 50 students from Kindergarten to grade 8.  I thought that if we made $500 we would have done an incredible job.  Some students would get a lot of money and some would have a hard time coming up with $5.  You can imagine my surprise then when the students raised over $1300.  Each year the dollar value grew. 

To date they have raised over $13,000 for diabetes charities.  The number of students has grown slightly.  We now easily have 50 students from Kindergarten to grade 8 and they remain just as generous and dedicated to the cause as they were seven years ago.  

The day has become a full day event.  Students are taken to a local park where they enjoy a treasure hunt before lunch.  At noon they are fed pizzas cooked in an outdoor oven.  After their stomaches are full they begin their walk.  They all know who they are walking for.  Many may not know exactly what the disease means but they can put a face to it.  They also know that the money they have raised has helped people in their community.  The Diabetes Hope Foundation has a program that assists young people to purchase their supplies when no one else will. 

This year is bittersweet for me.  There is still so much work to do but it will be my last year.  We are moving and my son will be changing schools.  We will be leaving the area that we have called home for so many years.  

Before that happens, I will still make sure that t-shirts are ready for students who raise a certain amount of money for the walk.  Sponsors have donated other items to further help show our appreciation.  I have also created a link on the Diabetes advocacy home page so that those who wish to donate can help make this final diabetes walk extra special and help Ecole Notre Dame du Cap continue to help people living with diabetes. 

Once upon a time….

Once upon a time in a not so far away place, there was a little boy who was beginning his school career. He looked like any other child of his age. There was one glaring difference however. He was one of approximately one thousand very special children that lived in this land. They were children living with Type 1 diabetes.

This young man was blessed to be beginning his academic career in a loving school in this place not so far away. He went to an enchanted school that made sure he was safe. They kept in contact with his mother and ensured that all of his care was diligently looked after. He truly was a part of their magical family. This became more evident one spring six long years ago.

The staff began organizing year end activities. One of the incredible wizards of learning at this enchanted school went to the child’s mother and asked if the school would be able to do its own walk for diabetes. The money would go to charity and the children would get to know how they were helping one of their own special friends. Tears came to the mother’s eyes as she said of course this could be done.

Six years had passed and the enchanted school filled with wizards and amazing children continued to raise money for people living with diabetes. Each year the event grew. Each year more and more money was raised. The enthusiasm for this event never wavered. As the years passed the magical place of learning which housed less than 55 students from kindergarten to grade eight amassed a total of close to $18,000 for diabetes charities. What a truly magical place that could foster such a loving and caring environment. What an incredible place not so far away that could raise such large amounts of money in an economy that was in the grips of the evil Recession. If only such a place could exist! What a role model it would be!

But that enchanted school in a place not so faraway does exist and their story is real! Ecole Notre Dame du Cap is a French language school in the town of Cape St. George in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. On June 15, 2009 it raised $2217.20 for the Diabetes Hope Foundation. This foundation, with the help of these incredible young people, does what the provincial government has not yet been able to do–they provide assistance for young adults to purchase diabetes supplies that cannot afford to do so on their own.

These incredible students consistently raise money to help their friend and those living with diabetes in this province. They enjoy a day made extra special by pizzas provided by the school’s Parent Committee, prizes provided by a variety of sponsors, and the sunshine Mother Nature never seems to let them be without on their special day.

As the mother of that very special child whose life was nearly taken by Type 1 diabetes over nine years ago, I continue to be amazed at the generosity of the children, the staff, and the community. They reduce me to tears each year to know and see how much they care for my child and others living with this silent killer. Thank you again to the students. Thank you to the staff. Thank you to the sponsors who allow me to give a small token of thanks back to each student. And thank you to the community of Bay St. George who continue to support our children as they raise money for this event each year.