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!

Interesting Day

Yesterday was finally supposed to be my blog about the diabetes walk that my son’s school did last month….life changed that. First, I am still in the process of trying to get a new office set up, get my computer running, etc and basically am still pretty unorganized so I never had the chance to sit down and write yesterday.  Second was the fact that my day was so strange that I had to change the topic and save the walk for a later post.

What was so special about yesterday? Well nothing to start with.  My son was his usual self, sleeping through alarms, and driving me insane. I had decided that it was time to get the diabetes walk stuff all sorted out though. I wanted the paperwork done and shipped off as well as the money in the bank so that they knew I didn’t run off with the proceeds!

I sat in my new office at my cool make-shift desk and spread all of the pledge sheets and money out around me. I had to dig to find paper, fight with my printer to get things to print but soon enough I had all of the details dealt with and packaged up.  My son and I grabbed our bags full of goodies–which included a large sum of cash and coins, and headed out to use our new neighbourhood. 

The first stop was the new pharmacy to get our prescriptions moved over and filled.  After that I was going to the bank to rid us of the weight of so much coin.  Don’t get me wrong, I love, love, love coin that is going to the Diabetes Hope Foundation and will gladly roll and carry it any time! I stood in line at the bank of what could become my new “home branch” and waited to deposit the money so that the cheque I had just mailed to the charity would not bounce.  The teller (or customer service person as I think they are called now) called me forward and apologized for making me wait with all of that in my arms.  I thought that was pretty nice of her and said it was no big deal (I really could use to develop some muscles anyway).

The woman began organizing the cash, coin and loose coins. I had given her a sheet with my totals.  As she looked everything over, out of the blue she asked if this was money collected from a walk? I said that yes it was.  She then asked if I knew a specific family because they do a walk each year in memory of their daughter who died eight years ago.  I said that I was new to the area and was not familiar with the name.  I assumed that the daughter had died of cancer or some other disease but was shocked when the woman continued to say that yes, the girl had Juvenile Diabetes and had a “reaction” that had caused her death.  I told her that my son also had Type 1 diabetes and the walk was in aid of the Diabetes Hope Foundation

She then continued to tell me that two of her relatives had Type 1.  Her great niece and great nephew (who were brother and sister) were both diagnosed.  One child was diagnosed when they were eight years old.  When the second child turned eight, well diabetes came to visit again and the family was twice blessed?

I left the bank slightly blown away.  I was saddened that yet another young person had lost their life to this horrible disease.  It left me wishing more people would understand why I worry so much about my own son and so many others.  They do not see and hear the stories of death that I do.  They think I am paranoid and over-protective.  I still search for ways to one day make them understand so that perhaps they will watch our loved ones with diabetes a little more carefully and will be that much more willing to help us work towards a cure.

My day did not end at the bank however. I still had more running around to do.  My son and I picked up some things to put on his new bedroom walls.  We worked out design strategies and hit the grocery store.  After all of that we headed back to the pharmacy that  was to have our prescriptions all ready.  As I stood in line, a young man in his twenties was in front of me.  He was picking up syringes and as his conversation progressed, they were discussing the transfer of his file which included his insulin, test strips, needles, and more.  I was surprised to run into another person with diabetes moving pharmacies at the exact same time as we were!

I know its the small things but diabetes seemed to be in every facet of my life yesterday from phone calls to simply standing in line at a store.  Amazing!

Cure Funds

Recently JDRF announced that it was giving money for a Johnson and Johnson artificial pancreas research project. The other day I also noticed that they were involved in another research project with BD. I will readily admit that I have had very little to do with the JDRF since my son’s diagnosis. They are virtually non-existent in my area. I subscribe to some of their initiatives and occasionally follow some of what is being done but I am not involved with them regarding any fundraising or support.

The people that I have seen supporting them however have been very diligent. Families who create walk teams seem to go to great lengths to fundraise and let everyone know that they are “Walking for a Cure”. I therefore began to wonder how these same people felt about their “cure” money going towards diabetes tools research. Don’t get me wrong, tools are what keep my son alive. The great advances in tools are vital to me until that day comes when he or others living with type 1 diabetes can be cured. I spend a lot of time advocating to get these tools in the hands of all people living with diabetes so I am definitely in support of this sort of research. My question however, was for those who had “walked for a cure” and now saw their dollars going towards treatment.

Organizations like the Diabetes Associations openly state that money raised for them goes into a variety of pots including research and development. The JDRF website states that its “mission is to find a cure for diabetes and its complications through the support of research. ” For many that sort of a statement would suggest that a cure is its only focus. People that I have spoken with have been rather taken aback by these announcements. Some feel very betrayed while others are shocked but accepting. Many living with diabetes feel that they can still support this and feel that it is okay for them to spread their focus to living with diabetes and well as working towards a cure. Still others are sitting back scratching their heads. These people are not so sure that this is where they want their money and efforts to go any longer. Sadly there are many other organizations that would gladly accept their support.

I have no idea if this public support for techonologically based research will cost the JDRF any support or not. I am happy to see any advances that will keep my child alive, healthy and happy until that day when someone does finally discover that cure.