In October of 2017, young Eli Aiken, now eight years old, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D). That following May, his family geared up and took on their first JDRF One Walk in his honor. His parents, Joe and Nichole, dove in head first to the JDRF community. The Aikens have not looked back since. Joe describes being involved with the JDRF One Walk as “giving [us] a sense of being in the fight for a cure.” Looking ahead to the 2020 JDRF One Walk in Ashburn, VA, Eli Rock the Diabetes Squad is determined and fired up team to help make this the most successful One Walk in the event’s 15 year history.
“Since two years ago, when our son Eli was diagnosed with T1D, we feel like we are now closer to a cure than ever and it is because of the tireless efforts of JDRF, researchers, doctors, and legislators who seek to cure T1D once and for all. The JDRF One Walk gives us the opportunity to make an actual difference. Participating in the Walk takes away the feeling of powerlessness and makes our family feel like we can play a part in the eventual cure of T1D,” said Joe.
The day Eli was diagnosed, there was a team waiting for him at the Inova Fairfax Virginia hospital. The Aiken family had almost no knowledge of the disease prior to his diagnosis. Joe shares that, while this was a life changing battle presented to them with no warning, it was difficult to ask for help. A feeling that often resonates with multiple families that are newly diagnosed is the difficulty to accept the reality of a loved one living with T1D. However, a support system quickly found their way into the Aikens’ lives. Joe describes how he and his wife were whipped into shape thanks to the JDRF representatives present, and how their arms were wide open to welcome the family into a caring community.
Since then, the Aiken family has hit the ground running. Eli Rock the Diabetes Squad (a name coined by Eli himself) was able to quadruple their fundraising from their first walk, raising $12,000 for life changing T1D research. Looking ahead to 2020, Joe has stepped up as the Corporate Walk Chair in Loudoun County and aspires for the team to raise $50,000 by May 3rd. His goal is to convince more local businesses to become sponsors of the One Walk.
To sign up for next year’s One Walk event in your local area, please visit jdrf.org/walk. Interested in getting a local business involved? Please contact Development Manager Jenny Holmgrain at email@example.com or 202-465-4127.