- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 19, 2009

CITIZEN JOURNALISM:

Juvenile diabetes attacks children suddenly. It makes youths insulin-dependent for life, and it forces them to bear the burden of a constant threat of devastating complications such as stroke, kidney failure, blindness and amputation. Juvenile - or Type 1 - diabetes has been diagnosed in as many as 3 million Americans, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The mission of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) is to support research to find a cure for diabetes and its complications. The organization holds various events across the country to raise money for research.

“Nationally, over 500,000 people participated in the 2008 Walk to Cure Diabetes at the more than 200 walk sites around the country,” said Megan Trzcinski, special-events coordinator for the foundation’s Capitol Chapter. “In 2008, [the walks] raised $93 million for Type 1 diabetes research, with the Capitol Chapter’s Walk to Cure Diabetes raising $1.4 million.”

Northern Virginians are getting involved for the June 7 rain-or-shine walk at the National Conference Center in Lansdowne.



“The JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes is a great event that brings together people from all walks of life to help find a cure for Type 1 diabetes,” Ms. Trzcinski said.

The walk, about 3.1 miles, will start at 10 a.m. and trace the National Conference Center.

“The walk is long, but it is more than worth it,” said Megan Burns, who has participated. “I look forward to it, because of how much the event helps millions of people.”

Participating in the walk raises awareness and encourages people to become involved with helping those with diabetes.

“It’s really important to raise awareness about diabetes because there are so many ways to help,” she said, “and if everyone would get involved, we could really do something about it.”

Taking part in the walk also shows those with diabetes how much support they have from their community.

“Being in that environment and seeing all the people out there walking and helping out really makes you feel like you’re doing something great,” said Megan’s sister, Jillian Burns, a graduate of Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn. “I feel the sense of satisfaction that I’m helping for a good cause.”

After the walk, participants can enjoy food provided by Moe’s Southwest Grill, Hard Times Cafe and other donors. Games and other activities are planned for children.

There is no registration fee to participate in Northern Virginia’s Walk to Cure Diabetes. To register, visit www.jdrfcapitol.org.

Washingtonians will have their own Walk to Cure Diabetes, a week earlier on May 31 at the Washington Nationals’ stadium in Southeast.

Every bit of support helps motivate the diagnosed people to keep strong and keep fighting.

“The Walk to Cure Diabetes brings together all those affected by the disease, whether it’s the walker who has Type 1 diabetes, or the parent of a child with Type 1, or even a friend who wants to lend their support,” Ms. Trzcinski said. “Together, we are finding a cure for Type 1 diabetes.”

Meredith Spencer, an 11th-grade student, lives in Ashburn.

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