For most of us, Ron Santo is the affable third baseman with a lifelong yearning to be a Hall of Famer who was so emotionally invested in his Cubs that just his groans and exclamations from the announcers' booth told us more about the game than his words.
Santo's legacy, though, transcends baseball, the Hall of Fame and the Cubs-Sox rivalry.
JDRF Ron Santo Walk to Cure DiabetesWhy: The goal of the walk is to raise a total of $4.2 million in support of research to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease that affects as many as three million Americans.
When: Sunday, Oct. 6
Ÿ Schaumburg 5K: Busse Woods, Route 53 and Golf Road; check-in 8:30 a.m., start 9:30 a.m.
Ÿ Libertyville 5K: Independence Grove, 16400 W. Buckley Road; check-in 8 a.m., start 9 a.m.
Ÿ Warrenville 3K: St. James Farm, 2S541 Winfield Road; check-in 8:30 a.m., start 9:30 a.m.
Santo is the man who put a face on the disease of Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disorder that stops the pancreas from producing insulin and keeps the body from processing food.
Through him, we were able to see the disease could be difficult, but it could be managed. We were able to see a diagnosis meant taking care, but also taking part in life.
Not long after his retirement, Santo lent his name to a fundraising walk in the hope the money ultimately would end Type 1 diabetes and heal those already diagnosed.
Every year, even as the disease took its toll on his body, Santo would visit walks throughout the suburbs, talking to and inspiring fellow sufferers.
The Ron Santo Walk to Cure Diabetes continues in his memory as children and adults with the disease join with family, friends and supporters to fund research into treatments and a cure through JDRF.
The international organization formerly was known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation but has changed its name in recognition that adults as well as children have Type 1 diabetes.
On Oct. 6, thousands will join Ron Santo Walks in Libertyville, Schaumburg and Warrenville, as well as one in Chicago, to support the cause. Today, four families share their stories of life with Type 1 diabetes.
Kelli Allen, Algonquin
Joshua Allen of Algonquin was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 2½. His parents, Tony and Kelli, had to overcome needle phobia to learn to give Josh the many injections of insulin he requires daily. Eight years ago, they began participating in the Busse Woods JDRF Ron Santo Walk to Cure Diabetes, and now lead a group of participants known as Joshie's Posse.
Brodie and Rachel Bertrand, Palatine
Brodie and Rachel Bertrand of Palatine go to sleep every night worrying their children Colin and Klaire, who have Type 1 diabetes, will slip into a coma overnight if their blood sugar plummets. The family will walk together in the Busse Woods Ron Santo Walk to Cure Diabetes to raise money for the cause.
Jessica Hierbaum of Glen Ellyn was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 4. Five years later, her mother had teamed up with the precursor to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to create the first Ron Santo Walk to Cure Diabetes. Hierbaum still walks every year, now with her husband and daughter. It's a family tradition.
Lori Isaacs, Grayslake
Though it's rare for siblings to have Type 1 diabetes, both Drake and Grant Isaacs of Grayslake have the disease. They endure endless finger pricks and carefully monitor their food intake, and they've learned to pull themselves out of sports when their blood sugar starts dropping. They'll walk in the Libertyville JDRF Ron Santo Walk to Cure Diabetes.