It’s walk time again! October 15, 2016 is the date of this year’s JDRF One Walk. It will be held at the same location as last year – Panther Island Pavilion, located at 395 Purcey St. in Fort Worth. Last year our team, Eli’s Encouragers, raised over $12,000, more than ever before! The weather at the walk last year was beautiful, and once again, we had a great turnout. We continue to be unbelievably grateful for the love and support you all show Eli. You are all Eli’s Encouragers, and we can’t thank you enough. This year we again are setting our highest fundraising goal ever: $20,000, and we would love to break the 150 mark in number of walkers.
As many of you know, on February 27, 2010 our lives were turned upside down when Eli was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, which is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. It can strike at any age, but children are the most vulnerable. Today there are up to 3 million Americans with Type 1 Diabetes, with 30,000 people diagnosed every day. There is no cure for Type 1 Diabetes. Type 1 diabetics are 100% dependent on insulin injections to survive. Eli pricks his finger before every meal and has an injection after every meal and snack.
Throughout all of the challenges we are confident that great strides are being taken in diabetes research with the hope that someday soon there will be a cure for Type 1 Diabetes. JDRF is a leader in this research, and with your help we will be one step closer to a day that Eli lives without the disease.
Changes to Eli’s Treatment
Since last year’s walk, Eli has had 2 major changes in his health. In December he transitioned from insulin needles to an insulin pump. He wears a “pod” that is attached to his body, and when it comes time to give insulin we send a wireless transmission to the pod to dispense the insulin. There were some challenges at first, but we like the convenience that the pump provides over injections.
The second change to Eli is that he was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in March. Celiac Disease is an intolerance to gluten. Eli now has to abide by a complete gluten-free diet, and the house has to be clear of all gluten. Like Type 1 Diabetes, Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease, and the fact that Eli has Type 1 Diabetes made him more susceptible to Celiac.
As we have mentioned before, there are some awesome JDRF-funded projects that are in the human clinical trial stage or very close to it. These projects are continuing to progress, and we cannot wait to see the results. You can read more at jdrf.org, but here is a quick summary:
- Smart Insulin – Currently, when Eli is injected with insulin, all of the injected insulin “goes to work.” We are able to make good guesses as to the amount of insulin he needs, but he is always in danger of having his blood sugar go too high (from not having enough insulin) or too low (from having too much insulin). Smart Insulin is a form of insulin that circulates the bloodstream and turns on when needed and turns off when blood sugars are in a safe range. Smart insulin would remove the daily burden of injecting after every meal, and it would remove the constant worry that Eli’s blood sugar is in a dangerous zone.
- Artificial Pancreas – JDRF calls the artificial pancreas “the most revolutionary advance in diabetes care since the discovery of insulin.” The artificial pancreas combines a CGM and an insulin pump, allowing them to continuously communicate with each other so that the diabetic gets exactly the amount of insulin he or she needs, without the need for finger pricks and manual injections. The artificial pancreas will mechanically perform the functions that a non-diabetic’s pancreas performs naturally.
- Encapsulation – At the heart of Type 1 Diabetes is the fact that the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, called beta cells, are destroyed by the body’s immune system. No beta cells, no insulin. The body tries to make more beta cells, but the immune system destroys them as well. If only there was a way to have beta cells available but protected from the immune system. Enter encapsulation. With encapsulation, new beta cells are created and wrapped in a permeable, protective barrier, then inserted under the skin. The barrier protects the beta cells from the immune system but still allows insulin to be delivered. The individual can then go two years (!!!) without blood checks, insulin injections, and carb counting. If encapsulation proves to be successful it will be a completely different world for Eli. He will be able to return to a life that he doesn’t even remember.
These treatments will be life-changing for Eli, and they are made possible because of you! Even still, there is more work to be done so that these treatments can lead to an eventual cure, making it possible to live diabetes-free and to prevent millions of others from ever being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
We are very excited about the 2016 JDRF One Walk and we sincerely thank you for your help as we look forward to the day that Eli will live without Type 1 Diabetes!