Sunday November 1, was Type 1 Diabetes Day (T1Day)—the first day of National Diabetes Awareness Month (NDAM) and a day to recognize the bravery and resilience of those who are living with type 1 diabetes (T1D).
But for 2020, November 1 was also a day to celebrate the more than 40,000 walkers and more than 10,000 teams that participated in JDRF One Walk.
Because of the pandemic, this year’s One Walk was different. To follow COVID-19 safety protocols, rather than attending their typical local JDRF One Walk events, people were encouraged to have teams and walk on their own. The goal? For all teams to walk a collective 1.6 million miles in honor of the approximately 1.6 million Americans living with T1D, and raise $50 million to recognize JDRF’s 50th anniversary.
T1D Champions = Superheroes
Given the heroic actions of all who participated in One Walk, a virtual ceremony hosted by Brec Bassinger and Cameron Gellman, stars of the show “Stargirl” and JDRF Celebrity Ambassadors, seemed a fitting way to recognize the JDRF One Walk family.
“Cameron and I have been quarantining here together in Atlanta to start shooting season two of our TV series, ‘Stargirl,’” said Bassinger. “We both play high school superheroes and we are both type 1 diabetics.”
“We are so psyched to be your hosts for today’s JDRF One Walk National ceremony, which is a celebration of all of you and a celebration of the entire type 1 diabetes community,” Gellman said enthusiastically. “[In recognition of] how far we’ve come, and with your help, how far we’ll go.”
Pandemic No Match for JDRF Community
Bassinger and Gellman shared their own experiences with T1D, but quickly focused the spotlight on One Walk participants.
“We know that JDRF is all about community, and that we’ve needed that community these days more than ever before,” Gellman said as he introduced the story about two families whose children were diagnosed with T1D during the pandemic: Neisy and Derek Rodriguez and Mike, Aldonza, and Mia Zito.
“I connected with Mike and Aldonza through the JDRF New Parent Virtual Meet,” said Neisy, whose son Derek was diagnosed with T1D last April. “Shortly after that, we connected on Facebook. Our families instantly clicked, even though it was all virtual.”
Neisy also has T1D, as does her mother. Her story offered hope to the Zitos, whose four year old daughter Mia had been diagnosed with T1D in May.
“When I met Neisy on the JDRF meetup, she gave me the reassurance that Mia was going to live a long, healthy life,” Mike said.
Superheroes of All Ages, Abilities
Shortly after the Rodriguez-Zito story, viewers of the One Walk ceremony met Damian Reynoso, an elementary-school aged child living with T1D, and his mother, Paola.
“We remember what it was like before Dexcom or before a pump,” Paola said. “So to have these devices now totally changes our way of life. Not just for Damian, but for me as his mom as well. Damian can go to bed with the peace to know it’s ok to close your eyes because mom’s got you.”
“He makes it look easy because he’s our brave T1D superhero and he’s also a superhero fundraiser.” Paola added. Not only does Damian have his own walk team, but he also sells stickers and created a stuffed animal named Sharkabetes that’s being sold online—every Sharkabetes sale nets $5 for JDRF.
“Walking for JDRF is one of my favorite things to do,” Damian said. “When I found out how much money we raised this year, I just couldn’t believe it. We can all be superheroes!”
Numerous other inspiring vignettes introduced audiences to JDRF advocates and volunteers, and even a father who set and accomplished a mind-blowing goal for his One Walk this year.
“My JDRF One Walk was a really, really ridiculously long walk from Manhattan to Orient Point 115 miles to the East on Long Island,” said Michael Ehrlich, whose 16 year-old daughter Rachael lives with T1D.
Not only did Ehrlich walk the 115 miles, but he did it within a continuous 55 hour time frame.
“Often in the dark, and in the rain, sleeping literally only 1 hour in total,” Ehrlich added.
ICYMI, Watch the Full Event!
Watch the full recorded broadcast ceremony below to hear more about the T1D Champions mentioned above, as well as others! Watch through to the end as you may see some video submitted by One Walk participants from your hometown!