Tamara CunninghamSpecial to the chronicle
For people with Type 1 diabetes, life isn’t always a walk in the park, but there is one time of year when people like nine-year old Kaleigh Burkett do walk together in support of each other, and finding a cure for a condition that complicates their lives.
“Once at school I was at 1.9,” she said of her blood sugar level shortly before puncturing the pad of her finger and checking the reading on the pump meter. It’s a low number that can make her feel lazy, cranky and whiney.
“Sometimes when you are low you can’t always bring yourself back up.”
Kaleigh was diagnosed in 2011 with Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease where her pancreas stops producing insulin.
Something hadn’t seemed right said her mom, Courtney Battie, who took her into the doctor after Kaleigh complained of a stomach ache and had symptoms of a bladder infection. Tests showed she was a Type 1 diabetic.
Now Kaleigh goes through a routine of carb counts, blood sugar tests and insulin, and for the fourth year, she took to the track for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s annual Nanaimo Telus Walk to Cure Diabetes.
“There’s lots of walking, there’s a lot of activities, bouncy castles and food,” she said with a toothy grin before the big day. But fun as the event can be, it’s serious business, too – Kaleigh raised $3,035 for the foundation.
The Telus Walk to Cure Diabetes is the foundation’s largest national fundraising program, geared at raising awareness about Type 1 diabetes and money to help find a cure. The walk in Nanaimo began in 2001 and has since raised $272,000 for the cause, including more than $29,000 last year.
Aaron Carveth, the foundation’s walk coordinator for the Nanaimo event, has heard people remark on bad eating habits or sugar when it comes to diabetes, which he said is a common misconception.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune “attack” that doesn’t discriminate and can affect people at any point, he said, adding the walk not only generates awareness but allows the Type 1 community to connect and celebrate the work they’ve done to raise money.
Battie, the walk’s volunteer manager, first participated after being told it was a great event for her newly diagnosed daughter to meet other diabetic kids. She said it’s a chance for kids to know there are others like them and that they don’t have to feel alone.
The event took place at the Nanaimo Rotary Bowl Sunday, Sept. 27.