Walk to cure diabetes returns to Prince Albert

Matt Gardner
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The fight against diabetes takes another step forward this Sunday as P.A. residents hit the streets for the annual Telus Walk to Cure Diabetes.

Participants amble along a trail during last year’s Telus Walk to Cure Diabetes. This year’s event will take place on Sunday starting out from the Art Hauser Centre. Registration begins at 10 a.m. with the walk itself set for 11 a.m.

The walk is the flagship fundraising event for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), an organization dedicated to raising money into the prevention and treatment of Type 1 diabetes as well as an ultimate cure.

Now in its fourth year locally, this weekend’s Prince Albert walk will again start out from the Art Hauser Centre. Registration begins at 10 a.m., with the six-kilometre walk following at 11 a.m.

“It takes about 30 minutes. It’s very easy and laidback,” JDRF Saskatoon chapter fund development co-ordinator Sherry Buckler said.

“People can bring their strollers, they can bring their pets as long as they’re on a leash and it’s not a very challenging walk. It’s simply a matter of a nice way to spend time with your family on a Sunday after fundraising, and then arriving back at the Art Hauser Centre for some food and some fun.”

Post-walk activities include a barbecue, refreshments and child-friendly options such as facepainting and a petting zoo.

Organizers of the Prince Albert walk, which typically attracts approximately 100 people, are hoping to raise $12,000 this year compared to an average of $10,000 for previous walks.

“Obviously we like to shoot higher every year,” Buckler said.

“Every organization does that. They set the bar just a little bit higher, so it would be nice to raise $10,000 or more this year. That is our hope.

“We have people registered that are currently right now raising money as we speak,” she added. “We also have some sponsors that have decided to sponsor us for cash.”

Local sponsors include Farm World, Medi-Center Pharmacy and TD Canada Trust.

While many are familiar with Type 2 diabetes, which can develop through a combination of lifestyle and genetic factors, Type 1 diabetes is very different.

“Type 1 is an autoimmune disease, so that falls into the category of things like lupus and multiple sclerosis,” Buckler said.

“It’s non-preventable. It’s not related to lifestyle or lack of exercise or diet. It is your own immune system destroying the cells in your pancreas which produce insulin, and it’s being diagnosed in really young children.”

Since individuals with Type 1 diabetes cannot produce insulin in their own bodies, they must use external methods to administer insulin to themselves regularly.

Obviously we like to shoot higher every year. Sherry Buckler

If not managed properly, Type 1 diabetes can be dangerous and even life-threatening. Yet even those who carefully manage the disease can experience sudden shifts in their condition.

“One minute you think you’ve got it under control, next minute you don’t,” Buckler said. “And the dangers involve all kinds of complications -- blindness, some people have lost their limbs due to circulatory problems. Some people have died because they’ve fallen into a coma and they haven’t recovered from that.

“So it’s a scary thing, and it’s especially scary when little people are being diagnosed, because then what you have to do then is you have to constantly check the blood sugar levels through the night while they’re sleeping.”

Buckler estimated that 90 per cent of families that register for the walk each year have at least one family member living with Type 1 diabetes.

While the bulk of fundraising efforts consist of participants asking friends, family and co-workers to sponsor them, others have raised money through alternative methods, ranging from barbecues to yard sales to shaving their heads.

“It’s so unique, depending on the family and what interests them and what speaks to their community … It’s very interesting to watch the different ideas that people come up with to be successful with their fundraising,” Buckler said.

The Telus Walk to Cure Diabetes takes place in 70 communities across Canada each year. This year’s national fundraising goal is $8 million.

The JDRF will be taking online registrations for the Prince Albert walk until midnight on Saturday at www.jdrf.ca/walk.

Options are still available for those who wish to participate on the day of the walk but have not registered or collected money.

“We always welcome walk-ups,” Buckler said. “But what we ask people to do is come to the registration table and fill out a registration form and make a donation of a minimum $25 to join our activities.”

Organizations: Prince Albert, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Art Hauser Centre Medi-Center TD Canada Trust Telus Walk

Geographic location: Canada

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