Diabetes fundraiser anticipates growing in research revenue

By Elizabeth zinchuk

Three million Americans are living with a disease without a cure and southern Illinois is coming together to help.

According to an assessment done by the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, life expectancy of people with Type 1 diabetes shows, to date, they are living much longer than they have historically. The assessment also showed the general female population tends to have shorter life expectancy than men with Type 1 diabetes. The association announced both of these trends Sept. 25, in its 2013 meeting.

Diabetes research is an important topic everywhere, including southern Illinois, where the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Walk to Cure Diabetes is taking place Oct. 26 at the campus boat docks. The fundraiser organizers are expecting to raise $30,000 with more than 300 walkers, said Gayla Borgognoni, a fundraiser organizer, and many local businesses are supporting the walk.


JDRF is the leading global organization funding Type 1 diabetes, and aims to remove the impact of Type 1 diabetes, which affects roughly three million Americans, according to JDRF statistics. Borgognoni said because of her circumstances, she is anxious for a cure.

Three years ago, Borgognoni said her youngest grandson was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

“Since then, I’ve found out how difficult living with Type 1 diabetes is, and the complications,” Borgognoni said. “I wanted to do something with a purpose after I retired and I thought this would be something that would be beneficial to my grandson and other people who had Type 1 diabetes.”

Borgognoni said last year during the first JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes in southern Illinois, the group raised about $20,000. Despite taking place in Carbondale, Borgognoni said she hopes everyone from all over southern Illinois, including SIU students, will try to participate.

“I want to emphasize that just because this is in Carbondale, does not mean that it is limited to Carbondale,” Borgognoni said. “I’m trying to get a response.”

Borgognoni said part of why the research for Type 1 diabetes is so important because it also benefits people with Type 2 diabetes. She said Type 1 diabetes is defined as an autoimmune disease that can be hereditary, or by one’s immune system not functioning properly. People with Type 1, she said, cannot live without insulin.

People with Type 2 diabetes, Borgognoni said, are a metabolic situation where weight loss and exercise can often help control the diabetes.


“Most people don’t understand the differences, but most research that is conducted with Type 1 diabetes helps those with Type 2 also,” Borgognoni said.

Many therapies including the making of an artificial pancreas, Borgognoni said, are in the works.

“It’s pretty hopeful and it would make life better for people with Type 1 diabetes,” Borgognoni said.

Despite valuable research coming out every day, Borgognoni said the fact there is not a cure available is a prime motivation for her.

“There are other things too, but there is no cure, and that is one interest I have because I want a cure,” Borgognoni said. “I want a cure for him, but I also want a cure for the millions of other people who have it too.”

Another reason to raise money, Borgognoni said, is that diabetes is extremely costly, especially for government dollars.

According to JFTD’s data, Type 1 diabetes accounts for $14.9 billion in healthcare costs in the U.S. each year.

Borgognoni said people with diabetes could have extended problems or situations, often with their heart, kidneys, and eyes. She said they could even become blind, or have difficulty with efficiently healing wounds, which could result in amputations.

“That’s another thing we as a group are trying to raise for research those cures so we can reduce the cost to the government for medical related issues with people who have diabetes,” Borgognoni said.

Tara Parkhurst, a JDRF representative who helps coordinate walks, said JDRF tries to fundraise across the world including Australia, Canada, and England. She said there are 60 to 70 chapters of the organization across the country. Between all the walks, Parkhurst said JDRF expects to raise over $1,000,000.

Parkhurst said JDRF is also doing research into a vaccine, and is also doing research on therapies such an artificial pancreas, where a person with diabetes would have a continuous glucose monitor, and an insulin pump that will pump insulin at certain times.

“These therapies will mimic what a healthy body will do naturally,” Parkhurst said.

Walgreens, a national sponsor JDRF, will help aid in the Walk to Cure Diabetes. Matt Hughes, the manager at the Carbondale Walgreens on Wall Street, said he is proud to be a part of the cause.

“It’s something we like to represent and have been doing for years,” Hughes said.

Hughes said the connection with the organization is valuable to Walgreens and the local Carbondale community.

The cause to cure diabetes is a cause that Walgreens is in line with, Hughes said.

“Obviously it’s a big cause that’s Walgreens feels extremely passionate about,” Hughes said. “Anytime we help someone be well, it’s something we want to support and help for that reason.”

As far as the Carbondale community, he said it is important to raise awareness through such a prominent cause.

“The money goes straight to patients and JDRF is a great organization to support because they are one of the most efficient organizations for diabetes out there,” Hughes said.

To be a part of the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes or inquire further, see stl.jdrf.org or contact Gayla Borgognoni at 618-201-0945.