The Inglima family attended their first JDRF One Walk at Montrose Harbor in October 2018. They’re new to the type 1 diabetes (T1D) community – their son, Joey, was diagnosed in late 2017 at just three-years old.
Joe and Cynthia Inglima, like any parents that have raised a child with T1D, remember those first days after Joey’s diagnosis when life got turned upside down.
“We were scared for our son, and distraught to see him in the hospital bed hooked up to all of those machines,” Cynthia said. “We were afraid of the unknown. We wondered how his life and our own had changed forever. We prayed for the strength to show him a smile and not let him see how sad and nervous we were.”
That is when the Inglimas were introduced to JDRF.
“The JDRF bag of hope helped ease the shock of diagnosis,” Joe said. The JDRF Bag of Hope is a backpack that serves as a T1D for Beginners care kit for families with newly diagnosed children. It’s filled with educational materials and a special friend — Rufus, the Bear with Diabetes® — to show the child they are not alone while learning to take shots and test blood sugar.
“Rufus made Joey smile,” said Joe. “That’s when we wanted to be part of JDRF and raise awareness for others.”
So the Inglima family registered for the 2018 Walk almost as soon as registration opened. Then they needed a team name. So, they looked to Joey’s favorite movie, Minions, and Team Joey’s Diaminions was born.
Joe explained, “like in the movie how the Minions follow their master, we all follow Joey and are his Diabetes Minions, or Diaminions, who will not stop until there is a cure!”
The team had a very successful first year with $11,165 raised in just six months. They told their story, made team T-shirts, and shared their team’s webpage. Joe and Cynthia even put together a golf outing, Drive Back Diabetes, in August 2018 at Odyssey Country Club in Tinley Park, IL that had sponsors and a silent auction, but they are quick to credit everyone that supported them through their first Walk.
“We couldn’t have done any of this without our family and friends,” Joe said. “Everyone was extremely helpful in the process and enjoyed having Joey see everyone there to support him and others with T1D.”
Walk Day finally arrived on a sunny, cool autumn Sunday in Montrose Harbor and it was clear from the beginning that the day would be unforgettable. Joey’s Diaminions was celebrated as the 2018 highest new family fundraising team during the opening ceremony. That alone would have been the highlight of the day until four-year old Joey, about a year after he was diagnosed, kicked off the Walk by cutting the start ribbon while surrounded by friends, family, and over 8,000 walkers.
“To see his big smile as he cut the ribbon was a sight we will never forget,” said Joe.
With year one in the books, the focus has already shifted to year two. Team Joey’s Diaminions has its sights on even loftier goals – bigger turnout, higher fundraising goal, and a bigger tent to host even more friends and family.
“We love everything about this organization,” Joe said, “and want Joey to see that he is not alone in his life with T1D.”