Diabetes Walk personal for family

DeWayne Bartels

Diabetes made a frightening entrance into Julie Driscoll’s family.

Driscoll, however, harnessed that fear into something positive, becoming a crusader committed to doing battle with the ever-expanding disease by creating a team in Metamora walking in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s annual Ron Santo Walk to Cure Diabetes.

Driscoll and her family were on vacation five years ago when type 1 diabetes entered their lives.

“We were on our way to Florida. Our son, Jake, was constantly thirsty and had to go the bathroom a lot,” Driscoll said.

“He had blurry vision. We took him to a hospital in Florida. His blood sugar was 780. The normal count is 80.”

Jake, now 12, was 7 at the time. There was no history of diabetes in the family on either side.

“It was scary. We’re far from home and had no support network. We had to stay  at the hospital three days so they could teach us how to care for him,” Driscoll said.

“It was pretty over whelming. We had to start giving him shots. I hadn’t done anything like that before in my life.”

Diabetes, however, was only beginning to take a foothold in her life.

“Ironically when we got home from Florida I was telling my sister about Jake’s symptoms. We found the same thing in her daughter and diagnosed her. We had two cousins diagnosed within 10 days,” Driscoll said.

And, two years ago Driscoll’s other son Jimmy, 8, was diagnosed was type 1 diabetes.

As a result the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Ron Santo Walk scheduled for Oct. 3 at Glen Oak Park in Peoria has become very personal for the family.

The walk began in Peoria in 2005, the year Jake was diagnosed. The family participated.

The next year they got started earlier, formed a team called the “Cousin Crusaders” and have been raising money since.

“I’d say we’ve raised about $50,000 over the years,” Driscoll said.

The walk in several locations around the Chicago are as well. The walk’s goal is to raise a total of $5 million in support of research to find a cure for type 1 diabetes.

Last year the local walk drew about 5,000 people.

“Every year we seem to have more people,” Driscoll said.

There is a 1 mile walk and a 3K walk.

Driscoll said the goal is for each walker to raise at least $100 in pledges.

“You never know when a family member or friend will be diagnosed with diabetes. That’s why it’s important even for people whose lives aren’t touched by diabetes to get involved,” Driscoll said. “Chances are sooner or later you will know someone affected by it.”

Registration for this year’s walk is at 11:30 p.m. The walk begins at 1 p.m.

Go to jdrfillinois.org for more information.