Thank you for waiting out my elbow surgery. I’m back – even with a right arm I cannot use for five weeks. Okay, read below, share with your walk friends and please, add your walk story to the comments section. I love hearing them!
Our JDRF chapter’s annual Walk to Cure Diabetes is coming up next week. And for the first time in 13 years, we won’t be there. We’ll be celebrating the wedding of a wonderful couple, so we have a good reason for not being there. But I’m going to miss it. And I’m already looking forward to walk 2012. Because for some reason, the Walk has always given me – and my family – more than we’ve even given it.
Let me tell you about our first walk experience. It was late September and we were closing in on Lauren’s one year diaversary (I am pretty sure we didn’t even know to call it that back then). We’d found our way through that dark first year. And for us, it was very dark. The internet wasn’t the Internet then (I think I still had prodigy dial up. Anyone remember that?) If someone said “blog,” a person near them might say “as in cranberry blog?” Yeah, this world of ours had not evolved yet. So the idea of clicking your mouse and finding advice, support and help just wasn’t there.
Top that off with the fact that my daughter was the only child of nearly 800 in her school with diabetes. So when it came down to it, my friends really cared, but I knew no one, no one who truly “got it.”
We had a family wedding coming up out of state and since the invite was only for kids 13 and older, I was bum out of luck. There was no way I could leave my small child with diabetes to go to a wedding. I didn’t have anyone who would know how to care for her. So, my husband went off to the wedding. The kids and I stayed home.
Which is what brought us to the check out line at our local Marshalls. Ringing our order up, the cashier said, in a bright and inviting voice, “Would you like to give a dollar to help cure diabetes?”
“Why, of course!” I practically sang back.
But my older daughter, who was about 10 at the time, looked at me sternly. She crossed her arms, looked me in the eye and said this:
“Gosh, Mom. Don’t you think you should do more than that?”
And I knew, instantly, she was right. The cashier pointed us to a display with walk brochures. It was in two days. We trotted around the neighborhood and gathered what felt like a fortune to us: $475. That Saturday, our donations in hand, we headed into Boston to “do more than just that.” We took the train and then walked across the bridge to where the walk takes place in Boston, along the Charles River and by the Hatch Shell. As we rounded the corner to walk central, we all stopped short, astounded at the beauty we saw.
Sure, the leaves were that amazing peak fall brilliant they hit in New England that time of year. And the Charles was sparkling blue, reflecting the sky scrapers around it. But that wasn’t what took our breath away.
There before us was what I can only describe as a vibrant, multi-colored sea of pure Hope. Capital H. Teams were everywhere – meeting up, snapping photos and catching up with friends. Each had their own unique color and design (and you could tell there was competition for creating a really cool one). Left and right, folks were checking blood sugars, taking insulin and just plain smiling. They weren’t just walking our walk: they were talking our talk.
After a full year of living in a dark, scary, solitary place, I’d walked into the bright, glorious world of understanding and support. I can still feel the incredible surge of relief I felt at that moment. I knew, in an instant, the Walk to Cure Diabetes and the JDRF were going to be part of our lives.
On the way home the three of us talked a mile a minute. We were going to have one of those cool teams next year. We’d ask our friends. We’d come up with a team name and design a shirt (okay, the kids would do that. They know there Mommy’s limits). And so we did.
That second year, we listened to our walk mentor and followed all her advice. I felt brave setting a team goal of $1,500 (imagine if we could raise that! I remember thinking). The kids came up with the team name “Got Islets” and designed some really cute shirts. We sent letters out via snail mail (gosh, that feels so Pony Express now, doesn’t it?) and people RSVP’ed. We decided to take it a step further. Since the walk coincidences with Lauren’s diaversary, why not make it a huge party? We called a DJ, the caterer, the moonwalk company and set it all up for our house post walk.
That second walk day came. This time, I was excited but nervous. We set up our table and waited for our friends to arrive, hoping we’d make that $1,500 goal; telling ourselves no matter what we raised, we’d done good. (Those were the days of your friends showing up with piles of checks and cash; you not having any idea how much folks had raised). I sat at the table and checked folks in. Lauren danced around, loving her friends being there and wearing the shirts in her honor. She felt like a rock star. Then my friend Kay, who was helping me check people in, whispered in my ear. “Moira. This is a lot of money. I hope the walk people come around and pick it up fast.” Really? I was so busy saying hello and making sure everyone had bubbles to blow and fun plastic sunglasses to wear that I’d not done a running tally. So I looked, hoping to see we were near $1,500.
We weren’t anywhere near it. The total, that day, was $29,565.
And here’s why: Just as I’d felt so in the dark all that time before discovering the walk, so did my friends. They were desperate to help Lauren and help me. They just didn’t have a way. The walk opened the door to a way for them to have power in this crazy D world too.
Our walk team lived on, raising as much as $40,000 on some years. It waned when Lauren went off to college, but it will be back next year. Next year is her 21st birthday and her 15 year “diaversary.” We will celebrate a lot of things.
We’ll celebrate her hard work all these years. We’ll celebrate all she (and our entire family) has done to work toward a cure. We’ll celebrate all those many friends who have walked and donated and helped for oh so many years. We’ll celebrate that cashier doing her job that one day, saying the words she’s supposed to say. “Would you like to give a dollar to help cure diabetes?”
And we’ll drink in, once again, the delicious cocktail of hope that the walk offers each of us each year. If you haven’t gone, do it. And don’t’ stress about asking your friends to donate. They’re looking for a bright light of hope and help too.
Post Note: Just try to imagine how big the party will be at our house next year. You know you want to be there – just join our team.
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Sites That Link to this Post
- Wishes, diaversaries, and reasons to hope | despitediabetes | October 28, 2011
- How to choose a charitable organiztion? It’s as unique as you | despitediabetes | December 12, 2011