Kelly and Jonathan Thompson’s world got turned upside down 5 years ago when their Son, Charlie, was diagnosed with T1D. We’ve all heard the saying, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. That’s exactly what the Thompson Family did. They joined the JDRF family just shortly after Charlie was diagnosed and hit the ground running. Over the past 5 years they have participated in the JDRF One Walk Atlanta under the team Charlie’s Angels and have raised over $40,000 for the JDRF mission. But, more importantly, they have found hope, purpose and an invaluable sense of community.
This October, they will combine their passion for JDRF with their love of being active by taking on a new challenge – participating as a family in the 2018 JDRF Amelia Island Ride. To learn more about the Thompson family and what motivated them to get involved with the Ride program, please continue reading.
What originally motivated you to get involved with JDRF?
We began our journey with JDRF more than 5 years ago when our then 2.5 year old middle child was diagnosed with t1d. Amidst having a baby, a toddler with t1d, a 4 year old, and moving, our lives were crazy to say the least. An acquaintance introduced us to JDRF, and we immediately had hope, a goal, a purpose – to find a cure for t1d. It centered us. JDRF’s mission, the support staff at the chapter office, but more importantly, the support groups and JDRF community as a whole gave us comfort. Now, 5 years later, and with some “experience and perspective” under our belts, we’re able to pay that support forward to newly diagnosed families.
You first got involved with JDRF through the One Walk program, but this year your family will be taking on a new challenge by participating together in the JDRF Amelia Island Ride. How were you all introduced to the Ride program?
We have participated in four walks and raised collectively between $35-40k. We are super proud of this number, because it doesn’t come in the form of huge corporate checks but rather piggybanks and change from lemonade stands, dine outs and school fundraisers. We have HUGE support from our local community and are so grateful.
When Jonathan began his position on the JDRF board, a few men from the Ride team talked with him about joining. Because we are a physically active family, and enjoy living a healthy lifestyle, the ride just seemed to fit. We love the walk, and will continue to participate, but as our kids get older, the ride seems like a natural progression.
What motivated Jonathan & then the whole family to participate in the Ride?
Jonathan participated in his first ride in 2017 and was hooked. The camaraderie he felt with the team, the shared goal of fundraising for t1, and the physical demand all fit together. He had such a wonderful experience, that I knew I had to try it.
For me, it is about setting a goal and meeting it, both physically with the 100-mile challenge (as well as riding a bike…which I haven’t done in 30 years), and the fundraising goal that are most appealing. My parents and brother are local and integral in helping care for Charlie. When I challenged myself, I decided to challenge them as well…and they accepted. Now, we are all signed up and ready to go.
Additionally, we want to lead by example to influence our children to lead a healthy lifestyle. I am a runner, so my kids see me training for distance races, getting frustrated when some runs are hard, and feeling elated when I’ve reached my goal of running a long race. The ride will be the same way. They don’t truly understand the fundraising arm, but they can plainly see the physical part. They will see the blood, sweat, tears and pride that we will put in and the accomplishment we will feel at the end. That is important to us.
What are you all most excited about participating in the Ride as a Family?
What aren’t we excited about? Truly this shared experience will be so important for all of us. We can’t wait for our kids to be old enough to participate!
What will your family do to train together?
Training together will actually be our biggest challenge. Jonathan and I will have to work out a schedule so one of us can train, while the other takes care of the kids. Early morning weekend rides prove a difficult time to find childcare!
Any advice or words of wisdom to families thinking about joining the Ride?
I have never felt this is a race or a competition. Everyone has been so welcoming and helpful. We all have the same goal: to raise money, be healthy and make a difference in the lives of our loved ones. What could be a bigger motivator than that?!?
Thompson Family- your hope and determination is what motivates us to keep working until we turn Type One into Type None. We are so grateful for your family for all that you have done and continue to do to support JDRF.
To learn more information about how you and your family can get involved in our One Walk or Ride Program, please contact the JDRF Staff at 404-420-5990.