The Liebelt family intended to start with small steps when signing up for their first JDRF One Walk in 2016. After all, it hadn’t even been a year since their four-year old daughter Charlotte “Charley” Liebelt was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) on March 8, 2016. Though, it was clear once the Liebelts started building momentum, there was no such thing as starting small for them.
Charley and her parents, Chris and Nicole, began their brave journey with T1D like many other T1D families. The family focused their first days on learning about the disease, understanding massive amounts of information, learning to care for and live with this new normal.
“The first week post-diagnosis was a blur. Charley was being poked and prodded,” said Nicole. “Chris and I staggered through stages of despair, ignorance, resilience. Together, we cried a river and never left her side. We cried because there was so much we didn’t know. What did this mean for Charley? Could she still run? Play? Dance? Swim? Love? Play golf?” Chris has grand plans for her to become the next great female golfer… the family wondered if she could still do this? The answer is YES.
“We learned so much in those five days, but felt like parents of a newborn once we were released,” said Chris. “We heard horror stories from the doctors and nurses. But we also heard about the incredible community of support and the amazing amount of research that has been achieved for T1D.”
It was in the first week that a close family friend set up the JDRF Walk team Charley’s Champs and their journey with JDRF began. By week two after diagnosis, JDRF had connected the family with other parents and kids living and thriving with T1D.
“With JDRF’s support, we quickly shifted our outlook to keeping things moving with our new normal,” said Nicole. “That’s why it’s such a personal choice for us to support JDRF, as they have supported us in the most difficult of times.”
It was clear—regardless if it was the family’s first year participating in the One Walk—Charley’s Champs wouldn’t be taking any small steps. The family and friends had raised about $10,000, but it was when the family engaged corporate support from Nicole’s employer, that Charley’s Champs really kicked it into high gear.
Nicole and her colleagues took advantage of the company’s charitable donation matching program and held a kick-off event for the company’s annual corporate giving campaign. Nicole’s colleagues donated and auctioned off vacations, wine tastings, gorgeous pieces of artwork, CDs and other events and items, all to benefit JDRF, and. Forget small steps—together, Charley’s Champs made a giant leap and raised more than $20,000 in their first year!
Charley’s Champs will walk again in the 2017 One Walk and the Liebelt’s will continue to be active with JDRF until a cure is found. “Anything is possible if we work together. Today, Charley wears a continuous glucose monitor and an insulin pump. All of these advancements and more are made possible because of the unparalleled work of JDRF,” said Chris. Join Charley’s Champs at the JDRF One Walk, San Ramon on October 15 at Bishop Ranch, or find a Walk near you at walk.jdrf.org.