Activists Battle Rain to March for a Cure

Balloons drifted high into the skies on Sunday as hundreds of excited walkers came out for the annual Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation walk.

Parking Lots 1 and 2 outside of Aldrich Hall and Social Sciences came alive as a large number of sponsors and local groups gathered, pitching their tents and booths in support of the event. Even as a heavy morning rain pelted down, the walker remained enthusiastic, their excitement uncurbed as they continued their march within the campus of UC Irvine.

“Almost everyone still showed up,” remarked the walk’s Committee Co-Chair Sabrina Reed as the rain slowed to a drizzle. “I think it tells you how much the disease affects people and their families. Everyone who has it or who has a walk team and said they were going to come knew the event was rain or shine. So even though it started raining, they just put on their rain boots and their umbrellas and came out because we all really want to find a cure.”

Reed, who was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes 25 years ago, organized her team this year to raise over $10,000 dollars in support of research towards finding a cure for her condition. This year’s walk currently aims to raise a total of $850,000 for the cause.

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, or JDRF, was established in 1970 and has continued raising money to sponsor medical research. By funding technological innovations, the organization hopes to improve the lives of Type 1 Diabetes patients in their path towards discovering a cure. According to the Foundation’s website, JDRF has contributed over $1.5 billion dollars towards research efforts, making it the largest, non-governmental fundraising organization fighting against Type 1 Diabetes.

According to Reed, Type 1 Diabetes, also known as Juvenile Diabetes, is an autoimmune disorder that is generally diagnosed among people under the age of 30. Unlike Type 2 Diabetes that strikes elderly or overweight victims, Juvenile Diabetes strikes a younger generation and has impacted a huge number of the youth population in America and the world.

Those who suffer from Type 1 Diabetes can no longer naturally produce insulin and must regulate their blood sugar level with insulin injections on a daily basis. As there is currently no known cure for the condition, insulin remains the only existing treatment that can control diabetes, and victims and their families continue to suffer from the consistent pains and discomforts associated with such a disease.

“If you aren’t able to manage your blood sugar, you could end up losing your sight, losing your limbs, and you can die if you have an extreme low blood sugar or an extreme high blood sugar,” said Reed. “It really does affect the body.”

In light of the grim reality of Type 1 Diabetes, several organizations gather to show their support, both physically and financially. At his year’s walk, Taco Bell was the main sponsor for the entire event, and joining them were local organizations, big and small from around the community. Among these were Walgreen’s, Buffalo Wild Wings and Marshall’s. The local Cha for Tea also had a booth, and a huge number of UC Irvine’s Greek community along with the Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity were present in volunteering to help out with this grand event.

“Every year, UC Irvine always comes out. They never let me down. They stay until it’s clean, through rain or shine,” said Laura Zwick, who volunteered yearly as Volunteer Coordinator for the event and whose 13-year-old son Zachary was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. “The support that you see of these people that come out and believe in this cause, to walk in the rain and the wind, it’s amazing. It really is.”