Diabetes is the ‘invisible’ disease – since there are often no visible symptoms, it tends to be unintentionally forgotten about. Yet 24 million people in the United States – nearly eight percent of the population – are affected and are still fighting diligently for a cure, according to www.cdc.gov.
Kady Helme ’12 is one of them.
Diagnosed with diabetes in 1996, Helme knows just how much her active participation in diabetes research is needed.
‘We’re not in wheelchairs or on oxygen; you can’t necessarily see that I’m sick,’ she said, ‘[but] it is still slowly hurting my body on the inside. It’s a big struggle to deal with on a daily basis.’
Immediately following her diagnosis, Helme became involved with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), the leading charitable founder and advocate of Type 1 (juvenile) diabetes, according to www.jdrf.org. JDRF is well known for organizing nationwide diabetes walks for fundraising purposes.
Helme said that she and her family ‘couldn’t just sit back and say ‘oh, well, too bad she has diabetes.’ [We] wanted to have an active role in making a difference. The next summer we created Kady’s Krusaders, which is my family walk team,’ she said.
Helme didn’t want to become less involved with JDRF once she got to college, so at orientation she pitched the idea of getting Fairfield students involved with the walk to Joseph Ginese, Assistant Director of New Student Programs.
From there, Ginese said he collaborated with Dr. Deborah Cady Melzer, Dean of Student Development, and James Fitzpatrick, assistant vice president of student affairs, to make arrangements for Kady’s Krusaders to take action on campus.
This Sunday, Helme’s vision will come true: she, along with other Fairfield students who registered with ‘Fairfield U./Kady’s Krusaders’ at www.walk.jdrf.org or who register the day of the 9:00 a.m. race, will walk together at Cranbury Park in Norwalk.
‘My hopes are that we are able to raise at least $5,000 and spread awareness about juvenile diabetes,’ Helme said.
Ginese said he hoped Kady’s Krusaders would achieve their goal and that Fairfield students would come out full force to support Helme’s effort.
‘When you have that kind of energy in that setting, people begin to appreciate their reason for walking and realize that a couple steps goes a long way,’ Ginese said.
Although this is the first time a Fairfield team will participate in the JDRF walk, this will be Kady’s Krusaders’ twelfth team walk with the organization.
Helme and her devoted crusaders are clearly already established as a hard-working, active group fighting against diabetes. Helme said that Kady’s Krusaders have already walked in Chicago, her hometown, as well as Indiana, Hartford, Washington, D.C., and Florida.
‘We have been the largest family walk team, both in number of walkers and money raised, for several years in Chicago,’ Helme added.
Helme is also a youth ambassador who travels across the country to speak about diabetes through radio and television interviews, speeches and conferences.
‘[I’m] a ‘face for diabetes’ to tell my story to raise money and to be an advocate,’ Helme said.
‘I hope it opens their [Fairfield students’] eyes that they have this incredibly driven, passionate classmate who lives with juvenile diabetes and doesn’t let it stop her from doing anything she enjoys,’ Ginese said.
Free transportation by bus that will leave 8 a.m. the day of the race and depart from the RecPlex can be arranged by sending an e-mail to Joseph Ginese, firstname.lastname@example.org.