Last Sunday was our third JDRF Walk To Cure Diabetes. We are proud to say we came within 15 dollars of our goal of $1000. We have many dear friends and family members who continue to support our passion to find a cure for this relentless disease. Without their help we wouldn’t have done nearly as well in our fundraising efforts. But what is just as important (sometimes more so, even) is that we would feel more alone and misunderstood without the compassion and understanding of these dear, caring people. Diabetes can be a very lonely journey. The love and support of friends and family is crucial to the overall wellbeing of people with type 1 diabetes and the family members who care for them.
The walk was a success with our city raising over $100 000 for JDRF. The weather was more than cooperative and, with the exception of a poor choice of footwear for Jenna that I foolishly endorsed and rued my poor judgement for the entire walk as J and I traded piggy-back duty, our little family team enjoyed spending a couple of hours mingling with other D-families.
To kick off the walk several people spoke to the crowd. One such person was Sarah, the woman I had serendipitously met only a couple of weeks earlier at a kids clothing store. Sarah, it turns out, is a real firecracker at fund raising. Dressed in a wedding dress she addressed the crowd, explaining her attire as a fundraising initiative to create a buzz and get people asking questions. In essence, it was a way to get attention. She and other friends of hers dressed in wedding attire and called themselves “Brides Gone Wild”. They walked the streets of the city the night prior in a successful attempt to raise awareness and raise money. Her team accumulated $11 000 for the JDRF. That’s eleven THOUSAND dollars! Impressive.
Sarah spoke to the crowd, giving a speech that was very emotional. It cut straight to the heart of every parent of a child with diabetes in attendance. After her speech she left the stage and made her way through the crowd. I was lucky enough to be in her path and I stopped her. Her eyes were red and her face full of emotion. I hugged my new friend. My fellow D-Mom warrior.
I asked her if I could somehow get a copy of her speech. Without hesitation she handed me the copy she had in her hand and gave me permission to print her words on my blog. She explained that her passion is raising awareness. Raising funds is secondary. She wants to make the world a friendlier place for our children who have been burdened with a disease that has so many unfair stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding it. She wants to educate. I couldn’t agree more.
Here are Sarah’s poignant words:
Last night I was a bride gone wild. Today I am an overdressed Mom determined to do whatever it takes to find our kids a cure.
This past winter my husband and I taught our kids to ski. We started nice and slow on the bunny hill. Easily picking our kids up when they fell on the gentle slope and easily keeping them within arms reach.
Type 1 Diabetes is a lot like learning to ski. Except that you don’t start on the bunny hill. You are thrown on the chair and when you get to the top you discover the only way is a double black diamond run and there is so much fog you can’t see the way to the bottom.
You realize very quickly that you are never going to get down safely without a community of support to guide you.
We are all here today because we are either on the icy slope or we are part of someone’s team.
[We are] Mothers that love [our] kids fiercely. Mothers, that have built teams of support that help their children live their best lives.
Janice is also a mother who loves her son fiercely. Tragically, her son, Kody, is no longer here with us. In March of this year, at the age of 22, Kody passed away from Diabetic Ketoacidosis.
Diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of three, Kody had his ups and downs and challenges with Diabetes but he never let [it] keep him from doing anything.
Growing up … Kody had a great team of support, but as a young adult, Kody said his Diabetes was just another problem he had to solve. He thought he could do it on his own but everyone living with Type 1 Diabetes needs someone to watch their back.
In Prince George, where Kody was living at the time of his passing, he did not have a team looking out for him. If he had reached out and educated those close to him about his disease they may have recognized the dangerous warning signs. He might not have passed away.
Many people living with Type 1 Diabetes are embarrassed to share their disease with friends and co-workers because there are serious misconceptions associated with the word Diabetes and it won’t change unless we speak up and educate the larger community.
Don’t brush it off as no big deal. We all know that Type 1 Diabetes is a 24 hour, life threatening disease, that couldn’t have been prevented. By speaking up and advocating about Type 1 Diabetes we will grow our small community of support into a large one.
When we begin changing these misconceptions we make it easier for our teens … to build their own team that will have their back when they eventually leave the support network their family’s have carefully built for them.
Today we are walking … because a cure is our only way off the icy slope.
…. In the words of Frank Sinatra: “Walk on through the wind. Walk on, through the rain. Though your dreams be tossed and blown. Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart. And you’ll never walk alone. You’ll never walk alone.”
… so don’t walk quietly. Walk loudly. Lets make ourselves heard. Lets start spreading the awareness.