Wednesday, 29 October 2014 14:28

Group raises record amount to fund diabetes research

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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The Southwest Type 1 Sharps raised a record amount during 2014 for research to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes.


This volunteer group of families with children who have been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes hosted the fifth annual JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes in Swift Current at the Credit Union iplex on Oct. 25.
This was a new venue for the walk, which presented the planning committee with an opportunity to add skating as an activity.
“We wanted to do something different this year because we have battled weather each year,” planning committee member Donna Gatzke said. “People can skate and people can walk in the upper area of the rink.”
Their goal was to attract more interest in the event by adding skating and there was a good turnout.
“Sometimes you have to start thinking of different ways to get more people interact with your fundraising activities and getting people out,” she said. “So by changing it up to include another activity and having some games I think it appealed to people.”
The event was attended by JDRF Fundraising Co-ordinator Randy Durovick, who is based in Regina.
“This is the first walk that I know of across Canada where the walk actually included the skate,” he said.
He works with the planning committees for walks across the province and he described the Southwest Type 1 Sharps as one of the most active and organized groups.
“They put on one of the best walks in Saskatchewan,” he said. “So it’s a credit to people like Donna Gatzke, Sheena Gatzke and Michelle Steinley. Without their leadership, they wouldn’t achieve the financial results that they achieve down here.”
The walk raised $20,455 and it brought the total raised for the year to an impressive $51,450.48. This is a record amount for a single year and since 2010 the Southwest Type 1 Sharps have raised a grand total of $206,500.
“We did this simply because our passion was about our kids and just raising awareness for what Type 1 was,” Donna said.
Her 20-year-old son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was six years old. She is aware of four children in the community who were diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes this year.
It is a non-preventable auto-immune disease, but there are public misconceptions about Type 1 diabetes.
“There’s a stigma around diabetes as a whole and our kids being Type 1 was falling under an umbrella of you’re not exercising, you’re not eating right and that kind of stuff,” she said. “So we wanted to make people totally aware that these people had done nothing to cause their diabetes.”
She added the group has been really pleased with their efforts to increase people’s awareness and with the  response from the community since they organized the first walk in 2010.
“There’s been a whole bunch more awareness happening in the community and people are supporting our cause, which in turn comes down to the total funds raised for our community,” she said. “So we honestly did not expect to have this kind of success that we have.”
That has been evident this year with the fundraising activities that benefitted the Southwest Type 1 Sharps. The group’s annual poker tournament on March 29 sold out and raised $9,995.48.The longest day of golf fundraiser by Dean Toles and Richard Urano on June 27 resulted in a donation of $2,500 to the group.
Swift Current resident Meghan Chisholm became the first person from Saskatchewan to swim across the English Channel on July 22. She used her swim to raise $11,000 for JDRF.
“When Meghan took on this purpose to swim the English Channel it was her goal that she wanted to attached a charity to it and she elected to do JDRF just by the connection she had with this person from our group,” Donna said. “She was part of our poker tournament and she did some fundraising on her own. She just took it on her own to do this for herself and throw us alongside for the ride, which was an honourfor us.”
The Southwest Type 1 Sharps benefitted from a barrel racing and team roping event on Aug. 22 that raised $7,500. It was hosted by Donny and Krista Duncan on their farm north of Swift Current in association with Zane and Danielle Banadyga, whose five-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was only 15 months old.
Denis Perrault, who was diagnosed 19 years ago with Type 1 diabetes, volunteered at the roping event and also emceed the walk.
“Donny is a team roper and so are his buddies and he got them all in,” he said. “He had guys as far as northern Alberta that drove just to come to this. We got great ideas for next year.”
Perrault is an ambassador for the JDRF walk in Swift Current and he appreciates the efforts by the Southwest Type 1 Sharps to raise awareness and funds for diabetes research.
“We need a cure and we’re going to see one, I believe in the next five to 10 years, but cures cost money,” he said. “That’s were all of our money is headed. It’s headed right to find a cure for juvenile diabetes.”

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