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SMC seniors promote type I diabetes awareness

| Sunday, November 23, 2014

Nine Saint Mary’s seniors in communication professor Colleen Fitzpatrick’s non-profit public relations (PR) class will put the phrase “Once a Belle, Always a Belle” into action tonight when they host “Open Mic Night” to raise awareness for Type I diabetes in support of class of 2013 alum Katie Schwab.

Schwab, who spent time working with the Notre Dame women’s basketball staff during her time at Saint Mary’s, entered a diabetic coma this summer as a result of Type I diabetes, senior Loretto Evans, a student in the class, said.

Hearing about Schwab’s story encouraged Fitzpatrick, who was Schwab’s peer mentor during her time at Saint Mary’s, to re-structure her class in order to help raise support, Evans said.

“I would definitely say this is unique to this year,” Evans said. “[Schwab] is no longer a student here, and yet we’re still doing everything we can to make [the event] successful. If you were to tell me a couple months ago I would be this into a class, I wouldn’t believe you.”

In August, the hands-on class learned PR content such as fundraising and publicity, senior Nia Parillo said. Once the class covered all the necessary material, Parillo said they directed their focus to supporting Schwab.

“Usually what [Fitzpatrick] does is take an already pre-existing local nonprofit group, and [the class] does PR for them,” Parillo said. “But this is a different case. She decided to change the curriculum, and we’ve been building ground up.”

Through collaboration and brainstorming, Parillo said the class decided to host a bake sale and an “Open Mic Night.” The class exceeded their monetary goals during the bake sale, and she said they are hoping “Open Mic Night” will be even more successful.

Senior Julia Dunford said the students selected an “Open Mic Night” format in order to create a unique event for Schwab that would provide opportunities for student interaction as well as discussion about Type I diabetes.

“That’s part of the goal of the event, to not only fundraise for Katie and her family, but to raise awareness about Type 1 diabetes and the risks inherent with having Type 1 diabetes, especially as a young healthy woman,” she said.

All fundraised money goes directly to a fund in support of Schwab, who is still in a diabetic coma, Evans said. Schwab’s family will attend the event as well, she said.

“They are excited we’re doing this,” Evans said. “They’re all educators, so I think it’s even more impactful that [the support] is coming from a group of students who made this their mission.”

Anyone is welcome to stop by to listen to music, share a talent, read some poetry, sing a song or share a good joke, Parillo said.

There is a $5 admission fee, which includes two raffle tickets for an array of prizes, which are all donations from local companies and restaurants, Evans said.

Dunford said she hopes attendees walk away with a better understanding of Type 1 diabetes and a greater sense of community.

“We already have such a strong sense of sisterhood on campus, and this is a way to reinforce that, to help a fellow sister and learn a little bit along the way,” she said.

Open Mic Night will take place Monday night from 7-9 p.m. in Rice Commons of the Student Center.

More information about Katie Schwab can be found on her CaringBridge website.

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About Kathryn Marshall

Kathryn Marshall, Saint Mary's College '17, is a Biology and Humanistic Studies double major. Follow Kathryn on Twitter @kmarshallSMC

Contact Kathryn