I’ve been active in JDRF (especially the JDRF Walk-For-A-Cure events) for much of my life. I have two Alecia’s Stem Cells teams walking this year (New York City on September 30th and Los Angeles on November 11). Every year, I write a letter, asking (sometimes begging) my friends and family to participate. There are years where writing the letter comes easily, while other years I agonize over it. I try to have the letter ready to go on my diaversary (June 19th) but this year I did a diaversary blog post instead. So yes, I’m a little behind my own schedule. It got me thinking though, why JDRF? I have recently shared my D-blog with my family and decided to ask my Mom, about why my parents got involved specifically in JDRF. Although I was a bossy 6 year old when I was diagnosed, I wasn’t calling the shots (Get it? Diabetes pun? Shots? Ha) so here’s my Mom, filling in the blanks:
When asked why did we get involved in JDRF? The answer came easily.
Alecia, our firstborn child was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of six. That day, June 19, was a shockingly sad time in our lives. To say we were blindsided, is exactly how we felt. This was a child who was the picture of health, extremely bright, adorable, always cheerful and up for anything. Everything we had ever heard about this disease came running through our minds and we were devastated. Fear of the unknown was stifling!
Our endocrinologist, Dr. Robert Kaye, was most encouraging. He gave us the best advice which became our mantra – “Alecia is a child, who happens to have diabetes, not a diabetic who is a child.” That was the beginning of our journey, becoming immersed in the education of the vast world of living with diabetes. Dr. Kay suggested we become acquainted with JDRF. Through our association with them, we quickly realized we were not alone. JDRF became our lifeline to meet others with small children, to learn from those families who had been down this road and most importantly, we learned fact from fiction about this disease.
We attended lectures, participated in telethons, had Alecia appear in public service announcements and I became a member of JDRF’s board – ultimately running the Philadelphia Zoo walk. We were always hoping with the funds raised through JDRF that a cure was in the wings to be realized by our precious little girl and all the others afflicted with this life altering disease.
As years passed our daughter grew up, and we did everything possible to ensure her a normal life, participating in various activities like other kids her age. After college, she moved to NYC and became involved in the NYC Chapter of JDRF and has cultivated a team each year for the annual walk in which her family and friends all participate. The involvement with JDRF has shifted to her as an adult.
Our memories of working along side Lee Ducat and her leadership of an all embracing foundation (JDF) now JDRF, still remain a source of inspiration. Lee fostered a community to welcome, educate, and most importantly diminish the fear factor for families. JDRF introduced us to other families who shared the same ultimate goal to help our kid’s lives be relatively normal until the day they discover the four letter word – CURE.