Kids are adorable, especially the ones related to me.
Over the weekend, I got an e-mail from my nephew. As a dutiful aunt, I’ve collected box tops, flipped through catalogs and ordered kitchenware I didn’t really need, all in the name of raising money for something or other. But his request this time was a little different.
My nephew’s friend Jack was recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Jack is organizing a team in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Walk to Cure Diabetes this October. My nephew, Jonah, will be walking with him and is raising money for the team. I should mention, these kids are 7 years old.
What touched my heart was the little-kid honesty and simplicity in each of the letters the kids wrote on his personal donation page. Here’s Jonah’s request:
We really need you to donate money for us because we need money to find a cure for diabetes so nobody gets it. My friend Jack has diabetes and I want to find a cure for him.
Type 1, or juvenile diabetes, is a devastating disease that affects millions of people, a large and growing percentage of them children. AND IT SUCKS!!! 🙂
Yes, Jack – type 1 diabetes does suck. It’s an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own cells, destroying the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. Insulin is needed to remove glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream, so that means in type 1 diabetics, the body doesn’t have an efficient way to absorb and use the sugars in the blood. So, they need to be vigilant about what they eat, inject insulin every day, and be mindful of their blood sugar levels when being physically active.
While Type 1 diabetes isn’t typically a deadly disease, it is one that must be managed for the rest of one’s life. And when you’re 7 years old, that’s a long, long time.
Also, a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes affects more than just the patient. For the child, suddenly he needs to learn self-control and self-awareness, and things like birthday parties, Halloween and special events take on new meaning. For most kids, the worst that can happen when they eat too much ice cream is brain freeze – for type 1 diabetics, it’s diabetic coma. Parents find themselves taking a crash course in metabolism and become label-reading experts. School nurses are required to administer the insulin. Coaches need to be aware if the diabetic kid is pushed too hard or doesn’t have his glucose tablets or juice nearby, in case of emergency.
There is no vaccine, no cure for type 1 diabetes, just lifelong, daily treatment. Perhaps more maddening than not having a cure is that we also don’t exactly know who is most at risk for the disease. According the CDC, risk factors for type 1 diabetes can be genetic or environmental – or simply autoimmune, which means the body attacks itself with no known explanation. In other words, anyone is susceptible.
Please support Jack, Jonah and all the other kids walking this fall to cure type 1 diabetes. For Jonah’s donation page, click here.