The Kelley Family: Enduring for Team JDRF

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Margaret Kelley and her son Edgar running for Team JDRF in the 2023 Chicago Marathon

By Margaret Kelley

Twelve years ago, my husband Jonathan participated in the JDRF Ride in Death Valley. It was meant to be a one-time commitment—a physical challenge for a good cause.

Fast-forward to three years ago: our son Edgar was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at age 11. Our world turned upside down. A few months after his diagnosis, a friend from the T1D community reached out and recommended we get in touch with their local JDRF chapter. From that point on, we involved ourselves in JDRF in what I can only describe as “every way possible.”

Our family has participated in One Walk, Ride, the Chicago Marathon as part of Team JDRF, Children’s Congress, the Youth Ambassador Program, Galas, TypeOneNation Summits, and more. We have also added JDRF to our estate planning. Dollars drive research, research drives a cure, and a cure will benefit our son, as well as the millions of other people affected by T1D.

Miles for a Cause

The Kelley Family supporting JDRF Ride

After Edgar’s diagnosis, my husband heard from some other parents how meaningful the Ride was. We had just bought a new Peloton, and it felt like the perfect way to direct those miles toward a cause.

Jonathan then spent the next year training for the race and fundraising for JDRF. He connected with a new local friend whose daughter had T1D, and they made plans to ride together. We attended the Ride as a family this past September. We were deeply moved and energized by the incredible community, the money it had raised, and the athletic accomplishments of rider after rider crossing the finish line.

The Magic of Team JDRF

The day after Edgar’s diagnosis, Jonathan’s sister asked if she could run the Chicago Marathon for JDRF in Edgar’s honor. She then proceeded to raise over $20,000. After watching her experience, I knew I wanted to do the same thing. I signed up for the 2023 Chicago Marathon as a JDRF runner and trained for a year, connecting with other JDRF runners, fundraising, and doing whatever it took to get to the starting line.

There were so many hot mornings when I’d been up several times the night before with diabetes alarms. I didn’t know how I was going to finish my run, but I would tell myself, “If Edgar can do what he needs to do, I can do what I need to do.” I ended more than a few long runs in tears, exhausted and emotional from the task.

The race itself was unbelievable. Family and friends cheered me along the way, and Edgar joined me at mile 21 and ran with me until mile 25 (pictured above). I had planned to dedicate my mile 23 to the people who have lost their lives to T1D, a tradition from JDRF Ride. The fact that my beautiful, healthy son was running next to me for that mile was not lost on me. Those last few miles, which so many people say are the worst of a marathon, were my most joyful and uplifting.

Our family, including grandparents, aunts, and uncles, have completed 852 miles for JDRF through Ride and Team JDRF. There is magic in running for Team JDRF, and I can’t imagine running in any other way.

Why We Keep Going

JDRF is everything to our family. JDRF has given us technology, tools, medicine, and community. It is why there are fewer long-term health complications than ever before. It is why we can send our son on two-week-long outdoor trips with his class, knowing that he has the equipment to keep himself comfortable and safe. And it is why whenever we need a resource, connection, or new friendship, we can find one.

JDRF means the world to Edgar, too. He says, “It has brought so much into my life, like community, opportunities like Children’s Congress, and hope. I can’t imagine having T1D without those things because I would feel alone and like my life wouldn’t get any better.”

JDRF is also why we have hope for a cure. They have an incredible team of experts making both specific and broad decisions to eventually find a cure for type 1 diabetes. When the day comes that our son can take the devices off his body and stop filling his prescription for insulin, it will be because of JDRF.

 

Team JDRF provides entry into some of the country’s most exciting and challenging fitness events. Find an event now!