With a sense of relief, I handed the box large box of cards to the woman at the post office. “Good for you, you got your holiday cards out early this year,” she remarked. I smiled warmly and thanked her. We used to send out holiday cards each year, dressing the kids in cute outfits, strategic poses and creative greetings for Happy Chanukah and a happy holiday season.
But instead of holiday greetings, these envelopes contained our THANK YOU photo cards from our annual JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes. In our seven years of participating in the Walk, our family has raised over $175,000 to fund important diabetes research. We are proud and deeply grateful for all of the support, and we share this by sending out about 200 thank you cards each year.
Beyond the tangible dollar amount. The Walk represents so much for our family. Every year, in late summer, we write a letter describing how strongly diabetes impacts our family. We share both the triumphs of our active, growing children along with tales of our daily hyper-vigilance which is necessary to keep them healthy. It’s true, perhaps we are wearing our hearts on our sleeves, but many people appreciate and learn from our letter because allows them to glimpse into our reality and share our positive hopes for the future.
Walk Day itself is inspiring. A few thousand walkers come to support our cause, but I focus on our team, The Battling Brothers. (We needed to change our name from Leo’s Lions after my older son Sam was also diagnosed). A group of 40 plus people join us, including family, friends, and classmates who drag themselves out of bed early on a chilly Sunday morning. I’m still trying to perfect the art of being a good hostess, trying to spend some time with each person, distribute t-shirts ,and make any necessary introductions. The hours fly by because I am surrounded by the people I love, and I know the larger crowd is an extension of this, of people who care so much for a cure. A few years ago, the Walk theme was “Who’s your number one” (person with T1D). Everyone at the Walk cares deeply about someone, and they share a common goal.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I did not always feel this way, and I am definitely not thankful for diabetes. But I am certainly grateful for the amazing people I have met along the way, a second family; people I can call at the drop of a hat for help to pick up my child safely or help with needed supplies. Last weekend I was with Leo at a birthday party 40 minutes away from home, BG too high to register (over 600), and somehow we ran out of test strips. As I started to panic, I remembered my close friend from JDRF had recently moved a few miles away. She saved the day by lending me a bottle of strips, and Leo was able to stay for his best friend’s party.
Our happiest day, of course, will be when Type 1 Diabetes is just a memory. Until then, we enjoy sending thank you cards and acknowledging the many generous people who support us and share our hopes for a cure. We still get to show off our family in the photo, and this year I even beat the December Holiday rush!
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and your families.