Farmington’s Team Jakers will take a long walk for a good causeFarmington Elementary School fifth grader Jake Campbell does the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Walk to Cure Diabetes for one simple reason. “To find a cure, I guess, ‘cause I hate having it,” he said.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
Farmington Elementary School fifth grader Jake Campbell does the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Walk to Cure Diabetes for one simple reason. “To find a cure, I guess, ‘cause I hate having it,” he said.
Campbell is the captain of Team Jakers, a 40-something team of family and friends who annually participate in the JDRF fundraiser walk, scheduled for Feb. 23, at the Mall of America. He was diagnosed with Type I diabetes when he was 5 years old, and started making the walk a year later.
His mom, Traci, puts the team together every year. She writes letters to family and friends, looking for the donations. She also makes up the Team Jakers shirts – which incorporate a hawkeye graphic since Jake is a big Iowa Hawkeyes fan.
Campbell doesn’t mind doing the walk so much, either. In fact, he kind of likes it, because he gets to go to the Rainforest Café afterward, and because he knows he’s helping to raise money for Type I diabetes research.
The way it is
Campbell visits the school nurse at FES three times a day so they can check his blood sugar, and give him insulin as necessary. He’s got calluses on his fingers, and he counts carbohydrates. As he’s moved from grade to grade, his teachers have all kept a stash of juice, fruit snacks and glucose sugar tablets on hand. At the beginning of each school year, his teachers talk to their classes about diabetes, and tell them about the warning signs that signal hypoglycemic reactions.
Campbell doesn’t get a lot of time to himself. He was able to get his own telephone this year, and can finally be by himself without supervision – if only for a little while – but before that, his brother always had to be around if his parents were gone. At school, his teachers, the FES staff, his classmates and friends all know to keep an eye on him, just to make sure he’s not having some kind of diabetic reaction.
In all of that attention, Campbell has found a friend who knows what he’s going through in Brenda Partington-McGath, who helps run the FES Kid Connection program that Campbell attends several days a week.
Partington-McGath has had Type I diabetes for 32 years, after being diagnosed when she was 11 years old. Maybe no one at FES knows better than she what Campbell is going through, and the two have formed a solid friendship over the past two years.
“It’s a lot of pokes and prods,” Partington-McGath said. “If they found a cure tomorrow, I don’t know what I’d do. It’s a part of my life, and that’s what I do.”
“Yeah,” Campbell agreed, “I got used to it. I got used to the pokes, and I’ve gotten used to checking my carb counts. I’ve even memorized some of the carb numbers.”
The JDRF walk
Partington-McGath joined Team Jakers last year, but she’d walked the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes for over a decade before that. It’s one of those things she’d done to help raise money for Type I diabetes research. To date, there is no cure for the disease.
“I don’t know if they’ll find a cure in my lifetime, but I worry about my daughter, or my grandchildren someday. I don’t want them to have to live with that,” she said.
A collection jar is sitting in the FES Kid Connection room so faculty and parents at the school can contribute. For a direct donation link, follow: http://www2.jdrf.org/site/TR/Walk-MN/Chapter-MinnDakotas4316?px=1215160&pg=personal&fr_id=2141.