Tuesday, 01 November 2011 16:46

Southwest Sask. residents walk to find a cure for juvenile diabetes

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By Matthew Liebenberg
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It was a day of fun and entertainment, but behind it all was the desire to help find a cure for diabetes.

Swift Current's second annual Walk to Cure Diabetes to raise funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) took place at the Recreation Centre on Oct. 29.

As before the event was organized by the SouthWest Type 1 Sharps, which a group of families and friends whose goal is to raise awareness of Type 1 Diabetes in southwest Saskatchewan.

Donna Gatzke, who was part of the organizing committee, said the walk raised $22,103 with some pledges still coming in. This was more than the $18,500 raised with last year's walk.

"You can only build from it,” she remarked. “It's been great. Our pledges are up from last year and we are still totaling what we have to bring in, so I think we'll meet our goal."

Their aim for this walk was to raise $25,000. Through the walk and other fundraising activities, the Sharps have already raised $40,603 for diabetes research this year.

Gatzke said they will definitely have another walk next year that will also take place at around the same time as a run up to November, which is diabetes awareness month.

"We want to keep building that awareness, we want to keep doing this for the kids," she emphasized.

Many of those children were also present at the walk. Adaire Heinrichs, who will soon turn 14, was diagnosed with diabetes when she was six. She and her family members all attended the walk in their zombie costumes.

She would be happy if scientists can find a cure for diabetes, because it is sometimes a challenge for her to do all the regular testing of her blood sugar levels.

"I'm pretty forgetful," she said.

She said it is difficult to live with diabetes because she must be careful about what she eats.

"In class when the teacher is giving out treats I wouldn't be getting the same thing or I might not get anything at all. It's very tempting when everyone else is surrounded by foods that I can't eat right away."

Her mother, Cindy Redekop, said she is always concerned about her daughter.

It's kind of scary sending her off to school or to sleepovers because everyone thinks they know something about diabetes but unless you're really living it you don't know what it's like day to day.”

Tazmyn Banadyga, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes about eight months ago when she was only 16 months old, attended the walk with her parents Zane and Danielle. Tazmyn was one of the event ambassadors and together with her parents she cut the ribbon at the start of the walk.

According to Danielle it is very important to raise awareness about type 1 diabetes, as there are still many misconceptions about it. Her daughter receives finger pricks six times each day.

“I'm praying for a cure every day,” she said.

The Swift Current Legionnaires Midget AAA hockey players supported the event through fundraising and volunteer work. Seventeen-year-old Daylan Gatzke, a member of the team, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was six. He said it meant a lot to have all the people come out for the walk.

"Hopefully we'll get a cure soon so people like me don't have to live with it for their whole life."

He believes his condition has helped to make his teammates and friends more aware about diabetes.

“Mostly all my teammates and all my friends know what it's like and they understand what it's like to be low and what it's like to be high."

Legionnaires Head Coach Jason Johns was one of the speakers at the event.

"I didn't know too much about diabetes until I came here and talked to Donna,” he said. “These kids here and the moms and dads that deal with this every day are definitely my heroes. ... I'm definitely touched and pleased that we can be part of this."

Randy Durovick, the fundraising director for JDRF in Regina, said this was the best walk in the province in terms of the various activities and displays. This walk is one of 10 held in Saskatchewan every year. In addition, there are are 60 other walks elsewhere in Canada.

Anyone who still wants to support the activities of the SouthWest Type 1 Sharps can go online to the walk pledge page at www.jdrf.ca/walk or they can contact Donna Gatzke at 306-778-3779.

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