P.J. Pimpinelli started his JDRF One Walk team in his sophomore year of high school, shortly after he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at age 13. He was a member of the Community Service Club and got his whole school involved in fundraising. During homeroom, P.J. and his friends would sell paper sneakers for $1 each. Each grade had a different colored sneaker, so it became a fun competition to see who could raise the most money. “I would stay after school every day to hang the sneakers around the cafeteria so that everyone could see which class was winning,” he said. P.J.’s paper sneaker sales raised almost $2,000 every year.
But his fundraising didn’t stop after high school. In fact, it continued to grow and in 2023, Team P.J. is walking for their 19th year! “Every JDRF Walk feels like a reunion with family and friends from high school, college, graduate school, and various jobs,” he said.
One of P.J.’s most memorable walks was the year he wasn’t there! He unintentionally planned a vacation the same weekend as the JDRF One Walk. That didn’t stop his family and friends. “My team still showed up to the Walk wearing t-shirts with an illustration of me under a palm tree and the words ‘Where’s P.J.?’” he said. “It goes to show how much everyone cares about the cause.”
Why P.J. Walks
P.J. has experienced the impact of T1D research first-hand. Early in his diagnosis, he wore a “bulky” diagnostic continuous glucose monitor (CGM) for three days so his doctor could assess his blood glucose trends. “I never would have imagined that, years later, I’d be using a CGM all the time and that it would talk to my pump to make insulin adjustments,” he said. “The past 5-10 years of technological advancements in T1D have been absolutely life changing, and I’m excited to see what products are released in the future.”
Today, P.J. works as a physician assistant in pediatric endocrinology. “My diagnosis inspired me to end up where I am today,” he said. “JDRF has played a huge role in my life. My team and I look forward to the JDRF One Walk year after year.”
Join other T1D families at your local JDRF One Walk!