Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Why we walk for a cure

Yesterday I was sent as my work's representative for the Team Kick off luncheon for the local Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation(JDRF) chapter's walk in September. The last JDRF meeting I'd been at was a tad dry, so I was in for a surprise. The main support group for kids with diabetes in this area, "The Sugar Free Gang", was there and 8 of them played a part in talking about why we walk for a cure. First though, was the mom whose daughter has had diabetes for several years (since she was 5). Her mom told this story to illustrate what motivated her to be the Family Team chairperson. "The day before my daughter's 6th birthday, I found her sitting quietly on the front porch, not playing with the other kids. I asked her what she was doing and she said she was thinking about what she'd wish when she blew her candles out the next day. When I asked her what she'd decided to wish, she said, 'That I was 4 again, because I didn't have diabetes when I was 4.' (at this point there were several people moved to tears, myself included). "My daughter, at 6, had the wisdom to know that things had changed forever because she had diabetes, and that until there is a cure she is going to have to deal with this disease." I know that there were many people in that audience wishing the same thing for that little girl-that she didn't have to deal with the burden Scott mentioned in his journal of the daily grind of it all.
And then, because the theme for the walk this year is The Wizard of Oz, 4 of the Sugar Free Gang kids were dressed up as Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Lion, and the Tin Man. And one at at time they led up to the stage older kids, ages 12-19 who each shared their stories of why diabetes requires a heart, a brain, courage, and a home. The themes that ran through each of them were of kids who had to grow up too fast- be brave and strong even though there were times when they just wanted to cry about it all. Learning to do what it takes to live a healthy life, hoping to avoid complications. Knowing that the consequences of not doing what they need to do could cause problems years beyond when their young minds can comprehend. Who wants to think about the possibilities of complications creeping up on you in 20 years when you haven't even been alive 20 years? I know I didn't want to when I was a teen. But it was there, that nagging knowledge in the back of my mind everytime I made a decision about food, insulin, exercise, etc. There were times when I wondered if it would be better, easier, to deal with diabetes if I didn't know everything I had been taught about the possible problems it could cause. And everytime I decided that it was better I knew, so I could work towards prevention. I give the kids who spoke a lot of credit for sharing their experiences and showing the corporate teams the faces of diabetes-the young women starting college, the little girls dreaming about what they want to be when they grow up. So, while I'll be in a plane flying back from Italy the day of the walk, those stories will be in my mind as reminders of why I am working on my certification to be a diabetes educator- to empower those living with diabetes until we find a cure to live healthy lives. If you want to walk in your local walk, or find a team to sponsor, you can go to the JDRF's website.

3 comments:

Kassie said...

This is great :) I remember travelling to Albany to talk camp with the Sugar Free Gang - that is one enthusiastic group!

AmyT said...

Hi Katie,
Welcome to the D-blogosphere! Have you found me yet at www.diabetesmine.com?

You go, girl!

Bernard said...

Katie

Thanks for reminding me of times when I've gotten together with kids (and others) who have diabetes. It's always rowdy and fun.

For those of us who've had it a little longer it's easy to get worn down by diabetes. But children are just being themselves and getting on with living. It's a real pick-me-up!