Eighth-grader walks for cure for Type 1 diabetes

   Eighth-grader Patrick “PJ” Donaldson looks like any other 14-year-old at Olive Pierce Middle School.  He plays soccer and likes drawing, music, playing video games and skateboards.

   A trip to Washington, D.C., this year with the OPMS eighth-grade class will reveal one special difference in this easygoing young man—Donaldson will need a medical chaperone.  

   “P.J. is not ready to take care of himself for that length of time yet,” said his mother, Jennifer. “He has Type 1 diabetes.”  

   According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), “Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that strikes children and adults suddenly, and can be fatal. Until a cure is found, people with type 1 diabetes have to test their blood sugar and give themselves insulin injections multiple times or use a pump—each day, every day of their lives. Insulin is not a cure ... devastating complications may include kidney failure, blindness, heart disease, stroke, and amputation.”

   The Donaldson family participates each year in the JDRF’s Walk to Cure Diabetes at UCSD. This is the fifth year the family will contribute toward research for a cure.  

   “We have raised over $2,000 so far this year,” said Jennifer Donaldson. “We can continue to collect donations for up to four weeks after the walk on Sunday.”  

   According to Donaldson, more than 85 percent of every dollar raised for the JDRF goes to research and research-related education.  

   “PJ was diagnosed right after his 9th birthday in 2004,” she said. “On the first day of his diagnosis, we had to hold him down in the doctor’s office to give him his first shot. Before we left, I turned to the doctor and said ‘but I don’t know what to feed him!’”  

   “Instead of shots,” said Donaldson, “PJ is now on a pump that delivers a steady stream of insulin.  We caught it early by seeing the classic symptoms—severe thirst and frequent urination.”  

   “I first did the walk 5 months after PJ’s diagnosis as kind of a one-mom-march against diabetes,” said Donaldson. “It was just myself and a friend. I set what I thought was a really high goal of $500 and ended up raising over $1,500. The next year we started a family walk team that consists of our family, grandmas, aunt, uncle, cousins and friends. In total we have raised over $10,000 and this year so far we’ve raised another $2,200.

   Eighteen were scheduled to walk on Sunday, Nov. 8.

   “The event itself is really fun as well,” said Donaldson. “JDRF puts out food, there’s face-painters and clowns for the kids, some freebies.”

The 5K Walk (approximately 3.5 miles) at UCSD is JDRF’s biggest fundraiser.  This year’s theme was Southern California Walks for a Cure, with the San Diego, Los Angeles and Irvine walks all held the same day with an estimated 25,000 people participating.

   Donaldson has one month to collect donations.  Checks may be made payable to JDRF and mailed to Patrick Donaldson, P.O. Box 3583, Ramona CA 92065.  Donations may be made online by going to www.walk.jdrf.org, and under “Donate to a Walker,” enter the name Patrick Donaldson.

   
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