This event is held by Mid-Ohio JDRF. Let’s talk about JDRF for a minute. If you’re not familiar, JDRF works to fund research to eliminate Type 1 Diabetes (T1D). In fact, it’s the only global organization with a strategic research plan to do so.
The JDRF 2014 Promise Ball is near & dear to my heart as just a couple of years ago one of my best friends was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. She chalked up all of her classic Diabetic symptoms (weight loss, frequent urination, excessive thirst/hunger, etc.) to other things and found herself in the hospital with a blood glucose (sugar) level well above 400. Which for those of you that don’t know, is super scary and dangerous. Today, she is very healthy but has had to adapt to the new lifestyle of checking her blood sugar frequently, making sure she always has snacks to stabilize her sugars if needed, as well as avoiding lots of sugar and alcohol. Talk about a major life change.
So what’s Type 1 Diabetes? Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease that makes you dependent lifelong on insulin injections requires that you constantly balance insulin delivery against the amount of food you eat, the exercise you get and even the stress of your workplace or school, every minute of every day.
Currently, there is no cure. In fact, every year in the United States, 30,000 people are diagnosed – in Ohio that’s 600 people each year. And, the increase in prevalence of people under 20 being diagnosed from 2001 to 2009 is 23%. That’s why JDRF works diligently to help fund research that can help people better live with Type 1 Diabetes, and that eventually will end it. That’s what makes the Promise Ball so important.
Here in our backyard, the Mid-Ohio Chapter of JDRF’s Promise Ball has become a big time event, featuring an evening of fabulous food, entertainment, socializing and an auction to support this monumental mission. The Promise Ball funds the many advances of today and tomorrow. Things like the Artificial Pancreas Project. This medical device operates as closely as possible to a normal human pancreas, regulating insulin and in 2012, the FDA released final guidance for device makers to secure approval and commercialize the system. Outpatient trials are already underway.
Also on the horizon, there’s smart insulin, a form of insulin that circulates in the bloodstream and turns on when it’s needed to lower blood sugars and turns off when blood sugars are at safe levels. In 2010, the pharmaceutical company Merck acquired SmartCells. The evolution of SmartCells is powerful validation of JDRF’s strategy to support early stage therapy development to draw the capital and commercial know-how of major drug and biotech manufacturers to Type 1 Diabetes. While still years away from becoming a treatment, smart insulin will become another life-changing therapy for those with Type 1 Diabetes.
This year’s Promise Ball honors former Congressman Zachary T. Space (D-OH) whose son has Type 1 Diabetes and who is a tireless advocate for increased state and federal funding. The evening will also focus on the Tzagournis family as the 2014 Fund A Cure Family. The Spaces, Tzagournis’ and 3 million people in the United States living with T1D, have no choice because inattention can mean life-threatening complications. They never get a break. And the 12,000 Franklin County residents living with Type 1 Diabetes — know firsthand that the disease is relentless.
I had the lovely opportunity to ask Olivia, the 15 year old daughter of Dr. George and Cindy Tzagournis, a few questions about herself and living with Type 1 Diabetes. Olivia was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the young age of 4.
Tell us about your first memory that you learned you had Type 1 Diabetes. Since I was so young when I was diagnosed I don’t have many memories of when I started taking shots. But my first real memory of having diabetes is when I first got my pump. I was 4 years old and I was so scared. I was screaming and yelling and I was very stubborn. To help me overcome my fear my mom put on a pump to show me that it wasn’t that scary.
Do you measure/give your own insulin? How long have you been doing this yourself? I have been giving myself my own insulin since I was four or five. To measure my insulin I used bolus wizard, which is a setting on my pump that will calculate my insulin for me.
What are some of your favorite foods/meals? Some of my favorite foods are things my mom makes. I love her chili, soups and salads. Greek food is another one of my favorites.
Are there any foods on the absolute “do not eat” list for you? There aren’t any foods that I can’t eat but there are some that I choose not to eat. Most non-diabetics think that I can’t eat any sugar or candy but actually I can. I choose not to eat most desserts or candy so my blood sugar doesn’t get too high and I stay healthy.
Do you have a favorite Columbus restaurant when you go out to eat with family and/or friends that has a lot of options for you? My absolute favorite place to eat is Northstar Café. It has very healthy options and the food is amazing!
Are you involved with any groups with teens with Type 1 Diabetes? I follow some funny diabetic Twitter and Instagram accounts that tell funny stories or show inventions that would help diabetics like pump holders and more.
What’s your favorite subject? My favorite subject is Language Arts. I enjoy it because I get to write about things I like and what I feel like writing about.
What do you want to be when you graduate high school? When I graduate high school it want to go to OSU or somewhere in South Carolina. I want to be a dental hygienist because my mom was one and my dad is a dentist.
I hope that you learned something about Type 1 Diabetes and the mission of JDRF after reading this post. We need a cure for this disease!