“It all started with a simple teddy bear – Rufus, the bear with diabetes. When our son, Jackson, was diagnosed with T1D at the age of 27 months, we received in the mountain of materials provided to us at the hospital a little card from JDRF to request a backpack filled with tools for helping our child along with this special bear. At the time, the demand for a Rufus was so high that we had to wait about 6 months for his arrival. In the meantime, we learned how to care for our son, checking his blood sugars, measuring and counting every carbohydrate that entered his tiny body and giving him the smallest doses imaginable of insulin to keep him alive. It was honestly a time of simple survival in our family. Shortly after his diagnosis we also received an invitation to the local chapter’s Walk kick off. After attending that event, we were hooked. JDRF became our lifeline for hope and support.
We set what we thought was a lofty goal for our first year of raising $1,000 in our letter writing campaign. About 2 weeks after we sent our letter we had already raised $2,500! And this was years before website registrations and social media fundraising campaigns! In our first year, we raised just short of $5,000 for JDRF in our mission to help fund a cure for this disease that had invaded our life only months earlier. Our first walk team consisted of our small family, Jackson’s grandparents, and another family from our community. We were small but mighty!
Since that first walk in a park in Denver, CO our family team, Jack’s Pack, has walked in 4 states in nearly every year since 2005. In 2016, we surpassed raising $100,000 on behalf of JDRF in the Walk to Cure Diabetes/One Walk events. It is still to this day one of our proudest accomplishments as a family. The coolest part for us is that we never really believed it was possible to do something so amazing or dream that big! JDRF has given us a voice in advocacy, fundraising, and education to share what life is like living with T1D. We know that we are making a difference and that gives us strength to keep going on the hard days.
The biggest piece of advice we have for anyone participating in the One Walk is to “Tell YOUR Story.” Whether you are the person living with T1D, a parent or family, or simply a friend, you have a story that relates to this disease. And that story is powerful. Our family has chosen the letter writing campaign as our primary fundraising tool and we often treat our walk letter like a “Christmas letter” of sorts – simply updating our loved ones on what is going on in Jackson’s life with T1D during the previous year. Some years they are filled with frustrations and sadness over complications & challenges and others are sprinkled with incredible moments of JDRF funded research that has literally changed his life for the better. However you choose to do it, speak from your heart and know that your story matters!
We look forward to seeing you at the JDRF One Walk on Saturday, August 24th at TD Ameritrade Park!”
— Jen Allred and Ken, Kenny, Jackson and Kaden