Diabetes walk a family tradition for three decades
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Jessica Hierbaum is taking part in the JDRF Ron Santo Walk to Cure Diabetes in Warrenville.
In 1975, at the age of 4, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Four years later, my mother, Suellen Johnson, founded the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation's (now JDRF) Ron Santo Walk to Cure Diabetes in an effort to speed up the hopes for a cure in my lifetime.
That first year, my second-grade classmates and I did the 12-mile walk from Elmhurst to the DuPage County Fairgrounds and the walk raised $54,000. Now, 34 years later, our family and friends still participate — this time with our daughter's classmates — and the Illinois chapter's walk now raises more than $4 million each year in support of research.
Ron Santo was a dear family friend and we will continue to fight the good fight like he did for us.
We walk every year so that a cure can be found for me and for the millions of others who have this disease. Every day, we and our families live with the realities of Type 1 diabetes — insulin shots, constant blood testing, searches for food at inconvenient times, middle-of-the-night blood sugar scares, pauses in our activities because of a low or high blood sugar, and, of course, the fear of developing devastating medical complications.
Diabetes is a 24/7 disease that you can't put aside even for an hour. It requires constant vigilance and attention. We walk because we know that a cure is attainable — and the sooner, the better.
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation gives more than 80 percent of the money it raises to medical research, and a cure is going to be found because of the amazing and never-ending efforts. I am so grateful to all of the JDRF staff and volunteers who work so hard for all of us.
Walk day is something we look forward to every year. It reminds us that we are not alone and that together we are working to find the cure!
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