For the 17th year in a row, teams of families, friends and co-workers showed their spirit and support to finding a cure for diabetes by dressing in team colours and costumes and walking at Kelowna Mission Creek Park earlier this month.
The annual event raises both awareness of the disease and funds for research in treatments and cures for the most severe form of diabetes, Type 1, which is a non-preventable autoimmune disease which strikes children and adults suddenly, leaving them dependent on injected or pumped insulin for life.
Pam Prentice is the senior fundraiser and development co-ordinator for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Her son was diagnosed in 1996 with Type 1 when he was just one year old.
“The challenges that our son faces each day are constant. He is able to do everything that he would like to do, it just takes a lot more preparation and it is a constant balancing act to keep his blood sugar in proper range. Finding a cure would truly mean freedom,” said Prentice, who was encouraged by the strong showing of about 700 people who took part in the three-kilometre walk.
“From the outside, it is not noticeable but people with Type 1 face challenges everyday that you can’t see. There is a need to continue to fund research toward finding a cure. It would mean that my son would be free and that is what truly motivates me … to give him a better life and all those living with Type 1 diabetes,” said Prentice.
Jason and Tanya Hogg of Summerland took part in the Telus Walk to Cure Diabetes with their son, 12-year-old Austin, who’s been struggling with the disease since he was eight.
“It was a month after we moved here from Regina. Christmas morning, I carried him into the hospital unconscious,” Jason Hogg said of when they found out their son had Type 1. “It’s heartbreaking, to always be wondering if he is going to wake up the next morning.”
Despite their struggle, Hogg was pleasantly surprised with the amount of people out this year despite the economic state, making it possible to surpass this year’s goal by $10,000 with a total of $160,000 raised for JDRF.
Medical costs are high for families with children suffering from the disease, said Hogg, who typically pays $300-$500 a month on medical expenses for his son.
“I know someone that has three children with diabetes — imagine what her costs are like,” he said. “Families that experience a financial burden have a hard time caring for their child … there’s not always the support that you need.”
But Hogg, along with about 230 other pairs of parents in the Okanagan with a child battling the disease, knows that it’s events like the Telus Walk to Cure Diabetes, which is the JDRF’s largest annual fundraiser, that make it possible to get one step closer to finding a cure.
For more information or to donate visit www.jdrf.ca.