It's November again. That used to mean the end of the baseball season, a heightened focus on football and, of course, Thanksgiving. However, for the past six years, it has become so much more than that for my family, as it also is Diabetes Awareness Month.
You see, my 8-year-old son, Carter, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 22 months old, and since then my wife and I have become involved with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to find a cure for this deadly disease.
Even though I have a vested interest in finding a cure, I'm not alone in my quest, as diabetes affects 246 million people worldwide. The World Health Organization expects that number to double by 2025, and to triple by 2040. More than 24 million Americans have the disease, with 6.6 million going undiagnosed.
Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, adult blindness and non-traumatic amputations, and is the leading cause of nerve damage, stroke and heart attacks. A new case of diabetes is diagnosed every 40 seconds, and this disease kills one American every three minutes.
I ASSURE YOU, I didn't know any of this until I had to spend four nights in the hospital with my son back in April 2004. Now, I have become more intimate with this disease than I ever cared to be, but my resolve grows each and every day to ensure my son, and all those who carry this burden with them, live the fullest lives possible.
Type 1 diabetes, or juvenile diabetes, which is the most severe type of this disease, usually strikes in childhood and lasts a lifetime. To stay alive, those with Type 1 must take multiple injections daily or continuously infuse insulin through a pump. They test their blood sugar by pricking their finger for blood 10 or more times each day. For a child, this can be very traumatic and frustrating, and the only way to end this daily grind is to find a cure. That is why the JDRF is so important.
The JDRF was founded in 1970 by parents of children with diabetes, and is the leading charitable funder and advocate of Type 1 research worldwide, providing more than $1.6 billion in the fight. The JDRF gives more money directly to diabetes research than any other agency in the world.
LOCALLY, THE JDRF has supported the research teams at the Medical College of Georgia by funding their efforts with more than $5.4 million since 2004. Most of these funds are generated through various events, including annual walks, which raise more than $94 million every year. Here in Augusta, last year's Walk to Cure Diabetes raised more than $40,000, with more than 300 walkers representing more than 30 teams helping Georgia raise $2.1 million dollars in the fight to cure diabetes.
The 2010 Aiken/Augusta Walk to Cure Diabetes will be at Savannah Rapids on Nov. 6. This year, we are on pace to eclipse the total number of teams and walkers from last year, so we expect to have an extremely successful event. Hopefully you can join our family, walkers and current supporters this year.
For more information on Type 1 Diabetes and the Walk to Cure, please visit our website at www.jdrf.org, or call (706) 955-8232 for the local support group, Kids In Need of Cure. We need your help in a finding a cure, so I hope to see you at the 2010 Walk to Cure Diabetes on Nov. 6.
(The writer is the husband of this year's co-chairwoman of the Augusta/Aiken Walk to Cure Diabetes.)