Niagara Walk raises $20,000 to help find a cure for type 1 diabetes

Steady rain fell as Niagara residents gathered to march to cure diabetes.

Children and adults lined up at Centennial Arena in Niagara-on-the-Lake on Sunday for the Sun Life Walk to Cure Diabetes for JDRF, a global organization that funds type 1 diabetes research.

“I think this year will probably be bigger. We have a lot of new families,” said Christi Webster, one of the organizers of this year’s walk.

“We have a lot of new families arriving today which is quite exciting for them to get involved and meet other people,” she added.

Webster’s daughter Maya, 10, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was just two years old. They have been doing these walks since she was diagnosed, but this is the first time the walk has taken place in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

“Our only symptom with her was excessive thirst, and luckily I knew the signs and symptoms, so we got it very, very early,” she said of her daughter.

Finding a cure and raising awareness is important to Webster. As well as trying to get rid of the negative stereotypes surrounding type 1 diabetes.

“It’s an autoimmune disease. There is nothing anyone has done to make this happen or can do to make it not happen. It’s just genes and where your body takes you,” she said.

Maya has been a JDRF spokesperson for a few years now.

“One of his biggest struggles was getting coverage for continuous blood glucose monitors for people who don’t have benefits and can’t afford them,” Webster said.

They won a partial victory earlier this year when Maya helped convince the Ontario government to cover the cost of continuous glucose monitoring systems for many patients, she said.

“It’s great to see that so many people, and probably more to come, are ready to show up,” Maya said. “It makes me happy.”

Her fundraising group, Marchers for Maya, surpassed its original goal of raising $500. With 30 donations, they raised $3,222 for JDRF.

Niagara’s 21 teams combined to raise $21,563 and counting.

“Originally, we were aiming for $5,000. And then it was $10,000. And then only $15,000. And this morning we were over $20,000,” Webster said Sunday.

The money goes to JDRF to help find a cure for type 1 diabetes. It also goes to help people of all ages with type 1 diabetes.

The march brought together between 25 and 30 volunteers to help, said

“Since COVID, there have been a lot of children who have been diagnosed during this period, who have not had the opportunity due to restrictions to meet another child with type 1, so it is a big event for them,” said Anne Martin, a development officer for JDRF.

While a group of children ran, Ann Deuerlein and Stephanie Fast watched their daughters from a distance.

Deuerlein’s daughter, Greta, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in April.

They are part of “The Go Team” and raised just over $1,800.

Deuerlein and Fast both agreed that it’s nice to see how their children support each other. As Greta gave a school presentation about diabetes, Fast’s daughter Evabeth stood in front of the class with her in support.

Before the walk began, Maya addressed the crowd before introducing Olympic rower Chris Jarvis of I Challenge Diabetes, to give a pre-walk stretching session.

“Over the past few years, one thing I’ve learned is that nothing can stop the DT1 community from coming together and supporting each other,” Maya told the large crowd.

Before calling Jarvis, she made sure to tell the crowd that the night before was her birthday.

Jarvis has lived with diabetes for 27 years.

“Many of us know the challenges of daily living with diabetes. It goes pretty far, and a lot of our friends might not see the little intricacies, all the steps that go in every day,” he said.

He encouraged everyone to try all the exercises he will lead, along with a few others.

But before the stretch, he asked everyone to show him what they were wearing for a successful walk, in case of low or high blood sugar.

Some children took out their insulin pumps, others took out little packets of candy. Another child pulled out a stuffed animal and hugged it tight.

After a quick warm-up and blood sugar check, everyone headed to the starting line to begin the walk.

“Niagara-on-the-Lake has intensified. Niagara-on-the-Lake has been absolutely amazing,” Webster said.

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