Did you know that more than 208,000 children and adolescents across the country have diabetes? With the largest pediatric diabetes program in the Mid-Atlantic states, Children’s National serves as a resource and center of care for children suffering from this disease. On St. Patrick's Day, two students held a school fundraiser to help improve diabetes care and research that could one day eliminate the disease. Sixth-grader Ryan O’Keefe and seventh-grader Joanna Pagedas led the 14th Walk for Diabetes at St. Jane de Chantal Catholic School in Bethesda, Maryland, as a part of the school’s annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Ryan and Joanna both have Type 1 diabetes.
The Walk for Diabetes began with an assembly of 500 classmates, teachers, and parents, educating them about diabetes and hosting a game of trivia before leading the annual walk around the school campus. Since the event is incorporated into the school’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration, many of the students wore with green hats, headbands, and lucky leprechaun socks. Ryan said, "It’s fun to teach our friends and classmates about diabetes and let them know why we’re doing this fundraiser."
The event shows students like Ryan and Joanna the extended support they have from their classmates and teachers, and it raises money for a program that they depend on for their health and well-being. Dr. Fran Cogen, director of the Childhood and Adolescent Diabetes Program at Children's National, said, “I am so proud of their courage and willingness to educate and advocate about diabetes in front of their peers. Their fundraising at St. Jane de Chantal School is an example of how kids can make a difference for others in need.”
In addition to the annual donation from students and families at St. Jane de Chantal, the diabetes program is supported by the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation and other generous donors. In 2013, Children’s National opened its Washington Nationals Diabetes Care Complex, a state-of-the-art facility where parents and patients will learn proper exercise and diet routines in a controlled setting, and a wonderful example of how philanthropy impacts Children’s National and helps kids grow up stronger.
The St. Jane de Chantal School Walk for Diabetes campaign runs until April 1 - help Ryan, Joanna, and their classmates in supporting diabetes care at Children's National by making a gift today!