Friday, October 22, 2021

Juvenile Diabetes “Oh What A Night!” Part III

My niece Lauren is at the center of the photo on the bottom row (with the multicolored sign). Submitted

My niece Lauren is at the center of the photo on the bottom row (with the multicolored sign). Submitted

By Gina Sisbarro

Marco Island resident Jere Fluno’s night to remember as honoree of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Center churns out over one half a million to raise money for the cure! The Hope Gala was held on February 19th at the Ritz Carlton in Naples. This red carpet affair sponsored by the Florida Suncoast Chapter with over 70 volunteers was a night to remember!

What exactly is the hope of Co-Chairs Cheryl Rubinton and Jennifer Lange whose children have been diagnosed with Type I Diabetes? The hope is:

  • Free from daily needles and insulin shots.
  • Free from low blood sugars that may never recover.
  • Free to go to sleepovers at a friend’s house without the fear of who would wake them up in the middle of the night to test their levels.
  • Free to go on field trips at school without their parent coming along.
  • Free from constant awareness and responsibility whenever they join youth groups or sport teams. Are they able to eat or drink immediately or are there emergency snacks available?
  • Free to go off to college without the worry if someone will be able to take care of them or help them in an emergency.
  • Free to have children of their own without the dread and fear that it is inevitable that they may pass this disease down to their own offspring.
  • Free from the possibility of amputations, blindness, heart disease, kidney disease and a whole host of complications, including a shortened life span which go hand in hand with diabetes.

This is the hope of all parents, grandparents and just about every family member, which brings me back to Lauren, granddaughter to Jere and Anne Fluno. To meet Lauren is to look in the eyes of a beautiful young lady with the greatest of hope for her future. She looked like a modern version of Cinderella. She is such an enchantress who has developed an incredible gift of public speaking that it was no wonder she had nerves of steel when speaking to a gathering of over five hundred.

Her message was clear. Although she looks normal and healthy, her regular routine is far from a typical teen. She estimated that since her diagnosis she has pricked her finger 55,000 times and has received 33,000 injections. She says she has matured faster than most in her age group and that’s because she had to make herself educated on Type I diabetes. She has to know cause and effect of every single drink or piece of food she eats that could affect her to the point of being life threatening.

As in all the youth ambassadors who have Type I diabetes and were present at the gala, she is hopeful and wanted everyone to know that she and her fellow youth ambassadors will never give up or stop following their dreams. “We won’t stop from becoming a great violinist. We won’t stop from becoming a famous football player or we won’t stop from being a hard driven news anchor (that’s Lauren’s dream).”

Her grandfather echoed Lauren’s dream by raising his auction paddle to contribute $50,000 in honor of his granddaughter and all the youth ambassadors represented and an additional $10,000 in honor of his great friend Ron Santos, who recently died from the disease. That wasn’t all. $25,000 was donated from his company, W.W. Grainger, seven persons raised their paddles for $5,000 donations and countless $2,500, $1,000 and $500 were raised everywhere from within the beautiful ballroom decorated in shades of a lovely sunset.

Prior to the cash auction, a live auction was held with auctioneer, Ron Kirby Jr., back by popular demand. The lowest bid item was a signed guitar by the rock band The Eagles for $1,300 and the highest bid item was a fabulous insiders trip to China on board a private yacht for $22,500. Everything else in between was auctioned from glorious travel destinations to jewelry to a feast and fireworks right in one’s own back yard! If that wasn’t interesting enough a silent auction was held during a 1 . hour cocktail hour with state of the art “I-Touch Bid Pads”. This unique gadget allowed all guests to bid on his or her own I-Pad. The best feature was not having a price war on clipboards. Patrons could keep track of all the auction items simply by checking an item and entering a bid with the touch of a finger.

A small yet mighty staff of three amazing ladies Jeannie Kawcak, Executive Director, Gina Dengler, Development Manager, and Kathleen Maloney, Administrative Assistant make sure that eighty four cents of every dollar goes right back into the finding a cure.

As Jere Fluno states it is a “family affair”. The Fluno family has one of the biggest walking teams raising the highest amount of cash for four consecutive years. As Lauren’s Uncle Brian stated, “You don’t even think twice about being involved.” Lauren’s mom, Julie, co-chairs the Hope Gala and Ron Santos Golf Tournament in Chicago. Mom, dad, brother, sister, aunt and uncle, grandparents, everyone has a role in raising money to find the cure.

If you wish to join in the fight and want to make the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation one of your personal causes what is a good way to start? Jere Fluno said the easiest way to raise money is to start a walk on the island. It doesn’t take much and is most likely the easiest type of event to run. He will be glad to work with you in getting it started. You can reach Jere or receive information on volunteerism by contacting the Suncoast Chapter JDRF office at 239-992-3840.

Sobering Facts:

  1. Every 30 seconds diabetes is diagnosed in the U.S.
  2. More than 40 per day – Children diagnosed with Type I diabetes in the U.S. each year.
  3. 24 million – The number of American adult and children with diabetes.
  4. 1 in 3 -Proportion of Americans born in 2000 who are at risk for developing diabetes during their lifetime.
  5. $174 billion – Annual cost of diabetes in the U.S. economy in 2007
  6. 32 % – percentage of Medicare budget spent on diabetes.

Over the next 25 years the number of Americans with diabetes is predicted to nearly double; the cost of diabetes will almost triple. Help set the sun on Type I!


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