Heart to Heart – JDRF hearts united by hope

Karen Coney Coplinby Karen Coney Coplin

Non-profit organizations exist to support and benefit a particular important cause, and ultimately to advance the public interest. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (“JDRF”) is just such an organization, and they are on a mission: to turn Type One into Type None.

Millions of children, adults and families are challenged by type 1 diabetes (T1D) every single day. T1D is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas loses the ability to produce insulin, the hormone which converts food into energy.

It strikes children and adults suddenly. It is unrelated to diet and lifestyle, though a diagnosis now dictates a lifetime of carbohydrate  counting, blood-glucose testing, and  (presently) lifelong dependence on  injected insulin. There is no way to  prevent it, and at present, no cure.

JDRF works every day to change this  by amassing grassroots support, deep scientific knowledge, and  many partnerships to fund research.

JDRF has led the search for a cure for T1D since its founding  in 1970. In those days, people commonly called the disease  “juvenile diabetes” because it was frequently diagnosed in young  children. Today, we know that an equal number of children and
adults are diagnosed every day – approximately 110 people per  day. Thanks to better therapies, which JDRF funding has been  instrumental in developing and making available, people with  T1D live longer and stay healthier while they await the cure.

A local family has confronted T1D head-on for the past  decade. The Danner family had no family history and no  knowledge of this life-changing disease when their daughter  Alyssa was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age seven. Julie  Danner, Alyssa’s mom, called JDRF “a lifeline,” with dedicated,  caring staff and volunteers. She said: “They offered us resources  and  understanding like no one who hasn’t experienced this  diagnosis or disease could offer, and most of all, they offered us  hope. We believe that we will see a cure for our daughter in her  lifetime, and JDRF is working tirelessly toward that cure. When  Alyssa was diagnosed, we felt helpless and through JDRF we  found a purpose and a way to be a part of the cure that will  benefit the children and adults that struggle every single day. I  am grateful every day for this organization and the wonderful  friends that I have met through JDRF.”

Other local families underscore the struggles which go  hand-in-hand with a Type One diagnosis. Pam Price writes  of surviving some of the “darkest moments” when her son  was diagnosed at age five; she notes that through JDRF, she  connected with other caring families and volunteers. Everyone  shares “the goal of seeing all kids free of this horrible disease.”

The Lang family, with two T1D sons, is committed to finding a  cure to help all kids with this disease; mom Michelle volunteers  at JDRF “with other great families who know exactly what” her  family encounters. Barry and Tricia Wilkinson highlight the  positive lessons their daughter has learned to care for her own  health. And, another mom, Jennifer Lange, is committed to  helping JDRF meet funding goals for scientific research. Like any other parents, she has served in many volunteer and staff  roles at the JDRF. All families fervently hope their kids can live  long and healthful lives.

Naples is served by the Florida Suncoast Chapter of JDRF,  a dynamic group dedicated to the important mission of helping  those affected by T1D and to support research. To achieve their  goals, the Suncoast Chapter organizes several fundraisers each  year including “The One Walk.”

Another exciting opportunity to support the ongoing efforts  of the local JDRF is coming up on Friday, March 11. This year’s  event (founded by the John McDonough family) marks the  Hope Gala’s 10th anniversary and promises to be a glamorous  evening celebrating “The Golden Age of Las Vegas.”

As in prior years, the event will be held at the Ritz-Carlton  Beach Resort. With the theme, “The Best is Yet to Come,” the  gala will host more than 300 guests for dinner, dancing, silent  and live auctions and casino-style gaming. Don’t miss a chance  to enjoy an unforgettable, sophisticated evening!

For information about Hope Gala 2016 and the important  mission of JDRF, please contact the Florida Suncoast Chapter  office at 239.591.2825 or, via email to Sarah Owen: sowen@ jdrf.org and: https://jdrf-fl-sarasota-manatee.ejoinme.org/My Events/2016HopeGalaTheBestisYettoCome/tabid/696275/Default.aspx

Email Karen at NaplesKCC@gmail.com to suggest coverage of  a favorite charitable organization for a future article. Special thanks  to the Danner family for highlighting the extraordinary efforts of the  local JDRF in support of member families and the quest for a cure.

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