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Student group participates in diabetes walk

Anna Boarini | Monday, September 17, 2012

Friends of Notre Dame Diabetes, a campus support group for diabetics, participated in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund (JDRF) Walk to End Diabetes on Sunday afternoon.

Junior Nancy Joyce, who organized Notre Dame’s participation for the walk, said the annual event attracts diabetics and those who support them from the South Bend area.

“Each year, Type 1 diabetics and their families and friends create teams, and they raise money for Type 1 diabetes (T1) research through JDRF,” she said. “After being in touch with the local South Bend [and] Mishawaka JDRF when our group first started out last year, we decided to participate in the Walk as ‘Team Notre Dame.'”

The walk is a very popular event in the area, Joyce said.

“The walk is a pretty well-established event in the South Bend community and based on our experience last year, it was very well-attended,” she said. “There were lots of local sponsors who came out in support of the event.”

To raise money for the event, Friends of Notre Dame Diabetes sold baked goods in LaFortune Student Center and encouraged walkers to fundraise on their own. The team hopes to attract community sponsors to partner with for next year’s walk, Joyce said.

Overall, Joyce said the response on campus has been positive.

“We’ve had a really positive response to the event on campus,” she said. “Our group is a small group, so publicizing the event was our biggest challenge, but when people did find out about it, they were very supportive.”

JDRF helps raise awareness of T1 diabetes and fundraise for research, Joyce said.

“JDRF also supports advocacy for T1 diabetics through programs such as the Children’s Congress, a leadership program that brings T1 diabetics to Washington, D.C., to speak with congressional officials about key federal funding opportunities for T1 [diabetes],” she said.

Friends of Notre Dame Diabetes was founded last year by seniors Joe Williams and Gina O’Riordon, who both have TI diabetes, Joyce said.

Initially, the club was started to help diabetics transition from high school to college.

“As the group has grown, we’ve added more of a service element,” she said. “Several of our group members have been trained at Memorial Hospital [of South Bend], and anytime a child is diagnosed with diabetes at Memorial, the hospital calls us and we send several [Notre Dame] diabetics to talk with the child and help ease their fears about their disease.”

Joyce said the students working with the program at Memorial are called “diabetes sidekicks”.

“Our hope with this program is to show both newly diagnosed diabetics and their parents that though diabetes can be challenging, frustrating and scary sometimes, it is possible to live a very normal life as a T1 diabetic,” she said.