September 8, 2013
Hello! I hope that you have all had a wonderful summer! The JDRF walk is right around the corner and we hope for our team to make a very large impact as we continue on the mission to eliminate type 1 diabetes forever!
Every year, we have gathered at west steps of the State Capitol and walked about a two mile commute with our team through downtown Sacramento. The exercise, socialization, city attractions, music, and food make the walk an enjoyable experience for all ages. For our younger team members, the games, bubbles, popsicles at the end (yummy!), pictures with Dinger (the River Cat’s mascot), face painting, and crafts add more to their time there. Water and nutritional snacks are also provided along the walk route, and pets are allowed to walk as well. We might just have a few T-shirts for your dogs! The walk is a great chance to have fun with friends and family!
The walk in itself, however, is not the main reason my family is so passionate about the walk. At age five, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes; an autoimmune disease where my immune system destroyed my insulin-producing cells in my pancreas. Unlike non-diabetics, my body cannot produce insulin to allow my body to absorb glucose and other important nutrients I need to survive. My body has no control over what my blood sugar is and how much sugar it uses to function properly. Fortunately, I can take insulin through a pump to allow my cells to obtain sugar, but insulin is not a cure and I must take it constantly. It is difficult to estimate the amount of insulin I need, and one small mistake can set my blood sugar off balance (which is not a fun experience). To test my blood sugar, I prick my finger with a lancet and insert a drop of my blood into a meter that will tell me what it is. I do this up to 20 times every day.
The experience shortly after my diagnosis was very frightening; especially from the perspective of a five-year-old. I had no idea what was happening or what I was still capable of. I can recall now that the doctors did try to explain to my parents and me what it would be like, but the real deal was much more than finger pricks, carb counting, and symptom charts. My parents had to tackle me in order to give me my shots and test my blood sugar while I cried for them to stop. Even though they knew it would save my life, sometimes they would cry too. It was hard for me to comprehend all of it, and why my parents were stabbing me with so many needles. When I was older, I asked what was going on and discovered the truth; diabetes couldn’t go away. What I did find out though was that diabetes doesn’t have to control your life. The road would be much more challenging for me than it would for others, but I still could do it.
The road has not been and never will be easy, but I have not let having a half-dead pancreas stop me from being the person I want to be. I practice 5 days a week and compete vigorously in several levels of saber fencing. With much trial, error, failures, successes, cries to God, and sit-ups, I have been very successful in fencing, have gotten a C rating this year, and am very close to qualifying for international competition. This year, my father, little sister, and I fenced for ten days in Columbus, Ohio and did very well.
I would never wish for anybody of any age who I know or don’t know to develop this disease, but I think the challenge it presents every day has made my entire family stronger, given us a renewed perspective of God, and has made me the fencer, student, and person I am today. I have a mission; to prove that something like diabetes doesn’t have to stop me or anybody else from living a full, healthy, wholesome life. My dream is to go into a good college with a pursuit in medicine and compete in the Olympics (to win). If you are diabetic and feel hopeless, know that this disease does not define you: and you are just as capable as anyone else to accomplish any goal.
Eighty people are diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes every day in the US alone. There are as many as three million type 1 diabetics in the U.S. alone! Many diabetics have had experiences just as, or even more horrible than mine. For many, diabetes has taken more than blood in a meter. Side complications associated with the symptoms of diabetes include ketoacidosis, blindness, kidney failure, liver problems, celiac disease, hypothyroidism, and in situations where there are no resources or a diagnosis is delayed, a life can be lost. I am extremely blessed to have the care I have for diabetes, and I only hope that all diabetics will be able to receive care like it. A cure could stop the epidemic that has engulfed so many people. A cure could bring hope to those who have none and need it badly.
It is important to stop this autoimmune disease from negatively impacting more lives. JDRF has been laboring hard to find a cure for diabetes. They are currently working on the artificial pancreas, which is showing good signs of being available to adults in less than a decade. Stronger beta cells are also being developed. Progress is being made! We are so close to a cure! Please consider giving money to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to stop diabetes. Every cent helps to bringing relief to those in the world who are not as lucky as I have been.
I hope to see you at the walk! If you cannot walk with us this year, you can donate under our team page or one of our family member’s pages on jdrf.org. Our team has done amazingly and been supportive all the years we have walked; no matter if it was four people to thirty people. We have made so much progress, and have fought so hard for this. We appreciate all that you have given so far.
We hope to see you there!
Gabrielle Nicole Zegers
For more information on JDRF, there is a youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7o8cjdv_MXk
For more information on diabetes, JDRF diabetes research, and getting involved: http://jdrf.org
Dear Family and Friends,
Thank you to everyone for 10 years of support for Gabrielle and our family. It is amazing to reflect on this journey we have been on and all that it has brought into our lives…both hardships and many blessings too. It is not easy, but we have never taken our eyes off that glimpse of a cure for type 1 diabetes, not only our child, but for every person who has this disease. The progress that JDRF has been able to make with funding the cure has been very impressive and it is truly something we believe we will see in Gabrielle’s lifetime. When we went to our annual family diabetes camp this year, we saw some of Gab’s “diabuddies” who had participated in the artificial pancreas study in her age group at Stanford. This is very exciting as they are testing this on children in Gab’s age group, which raises our hopes even higher that we are actually closer to a cure in the near future and JDRF is funding this. JDRF is funding many studies which are making very hopeful and great progress to a cure. It is truly amazing to see the progress that JDRF has made in the 10 years that Gabrielle has had diabetes.
Your support, whether it is to join “Gabrielle’s Guardian Angels” walk team with us on walk day, October 6, 2013, and/or your financial contribution to our walk team has been truly a tremendous blessing of support. We are thankful for the ability to be able to fundraise to finding a cure for type 1 diabetes. Your donations to our walk team/JDRF have given us motivation to keep on going, and keep an eye on the future, and hope for a future for people with type 1 diabetes to have a cure very soon. The JDRF has a motto they use: “From Type One to Type None”…wouldn’t that be wonderful!
If you would like to join us on walk day, please let me know and I can assist with helping you sign up or you can go on-line to the JDRF walk site and sign up on Gabrielle’s walk team: “Gabrielle’s Guardian Angels” for the Sacramento walk on Sunday, October 6, 2013. We would love to have you join us. To sign up on-line, please go to: http://www2.jdrf.org/Sacramento or walk.jdrf.org
Our home phone number is: (916) 783-6010. The JDRF office number is : (916) 920-0790 and they can help you sign up as well. If you would like to fundraise with us, we would appreciate that also!
JDRF is the leading global organization focused on Type 1 Diabetes research. Any donation is 100% tax deductible. Your generosity can boldly impact the acceleration of the life changing research that is happening. If you would like to make a donation to “Gabrielle’s Guardian Angels”, you can do so on-line, or send a check made out to JDRF to our home address: 9340 Swan Court Granite Bay, CA 95746 and we will turn the check in on walk day. If you would like to donate on-line, you may do so, as Gabrielle suggested to either our team “Gabrielle’s Guardian Angels”, or an individual walker on our team (can look up by name or listed under our team name). To donate on-line: http://www.walk.jdrf.org or walk.jdrf.org
Any support is appreciated! Please consider forwarding this letter to your family, friends, co-workers, or anyone you can think of who knows or has a loved one, or has this disease and would like to do something to help find a cure.
Thank you again for your continuous support and generosity over this past decade. There are no words to express the depth of gratitude we have for all that you have done. Bless you!
Madelon, Chris, Gabrielle, and Anneke Zegers
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Bret and Lynn Blackhart
Carol & Warren Treanor
Exxonmobil Matching gift
Jerry Martin, DDS
Kristin and Genna Kozlowski
Lisa & Oliver Wong Family
Mr. Dave Ghent
Mrs. Sue Dwyre
Peter and Martin Flores
The Bourgeois Family
The Hom Family
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