Seeking a Cure

By Sheniqua Faulkner
In Culture, Feature

Motivated volunteers rally behind the Metro St. Louis/Greater Missouri Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to help the organization raise funds to treat, cure and ultimately prevent diabetes.

 

Juvenile diabetes, also known as type 1 or insulin-dependent diabetes, is the most severe form of the disease; each year, 15,000 U.S. children and adolescents are diagnosed —that’s 40 new diagnoses every day. In those with type 1 diabetes, the pancreas ceases to function effectively. Needed to convert blood sugar into energy, the pancreas is a vital organ. When it does not work, the patient requires a lifetime of multiple injections of insulin daily or a continuous infusion of insulin though a pump. Insulin is not a cure, nor does it prevent the inevitable long-term health complications of the disease: kidney failure, blindness, heart disease, nerve damage, stroke and amputation. Half of all new cases are diagnosed in people over the age of 18.

The Cause: The disease is being carefully studied, however researchers and clinicians are unsure of the cause. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation is working to change that with the help of dedicated volunteers and staff who help raise funds to support research and research-related education toward a cure.

Local Impact: Lauded as one of the most successful interest groups supporting a disease in terms of lobbying and fundraising, JDRF has awarded more than $1.3 billion to diabetes research since its founding in 1970 by a group of parents of children with diabetes. Last year alone, the organization raised over $150 million. The Metro St. Louis/Greater Missouri chapter of JDRF has much to do with these impressive numbers. Marie Davis, executive director of the Metro St. Louis Chapter of JDRF, emphasizes that because diabetes research is so dependent on adequate funding, her staff and volunteers focus on creating fun and functional outreach events that get St. Louisans excited about getting involved—think resume-writing workshops and happy hour events geared toward young professionals.

Get Involved: Network with like-minded do-gooders and join the local chapter of JDRF’s Young Professionals group, organize a team for the 2010 Walk To Cure Diabetes or volunteer to help out at local health fairs. JDRF’s award-winning social networking site, Juvenation, provides members with a web-based community created for those with type 1 diabetes, their families and advocates across the nation to connect, discuss and support one another.

 

488_232.jpgThe faces of diabetes

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