Support for JDRF pours in at Crafting a Cure

By Adam Brazeau 
CORNWALL, Ontario – A beer tasting event with a collection of Ontario micro-breweries raised over $15,000 to help young victims of diabetes.

The second round of Crafting a Cure raised some much needed funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), an organization dedicated to T1D research funding and advocacy, in the salons of the Cornwall Civic Complex on Nov. 7.

Over 250 beer enthusiasts enjoyed the tastes of eight Ontario craft breweries and live music from Cornwall musician Mandee Woods.

Organizers Jeff and Cherie Lalonde know the impact of the disease all too well. They have two children with type 1 diabetes – an autoimmune disease that makes individuals insulin-dependent for life – and relatives and friends who live with it as well.

“To be able to support research for diabetes is really exciting for both of us,” said the Lalondes.

Multiple prizes were up for grabs during a silent auction, including a BBQ/smoker, $500 worth of meat donated by Olymel, and NHL jerseys and other sports memorabilia.

Ottawa’s Kichesippi Beer Company is an active supporter of the cause, so the regional craft brewery was glad to pour up some support. Since 2011, 50 cents from each Kichesippi growler (half gallon bottle) has gone to JDRF.

“This event is such a great idea. We’ll definitely be back next year,” said Kichesippi Beer representative Meghan Brennan.

To encourage responsible drinking, a shuttle service was offered.

Dr. Sarah Lawrence, an endocrinologist (a doctor who specializes in diabetes) who has treated the Lalondes children at CHEO’s diabetes clinic since they were kids, made the trip down to Cornwall to raise awareness of how the research done by JDRF supports a number of local trials to improve the control of the disease.

“People need to know the great things that come from events like this – and one of the most exciting is the studies being done on the artificial pancreas,” said Lawrence.

“We keep telling families, diabetes treatment is going to be different in  five or 10 years, I feel like I’ve been saying that for 20 now, but this time I really believe it’s true.”

South Stormont’s Laleah Susko and her daughter Alexandra, known as Lexie, 16, detailed the methodical planning and preparation that is needed to live with the disease, in order to resume normal day-to-day activities.

To ensure she’s healthy, there’s plenty of counting carbohydrates, weighing and measuring food, constant finger pricks, monitoring blood sugar and blood pressure levels, and numerous insulin injections.

“This routine has become as much a part of our lives as breathing,” said Susko.

Months before Lexie turned seven, her throat became painfully sore, she was rapidly dropping weight, and could drink a water bottle until it collapsed and ask for another right after.

Luckily, their pediatrician was the father of a type 1 diabetic child himself, and knew what was wrong immediately. He sent them to the Cornwall hospital for urgent blood work armed with a note that read: this child has diabetes mellitus please treat her accordingly. The next step was CHEO.

“Our lives changed forever,” said Susko.

Fast forward nine years later. Lexie is a good student, active athlete, and plans on becoming a police officer.

“We’ve been very clear to her that diabetes should never stop her from doing anything she wants,” she said. “But there’s only one catch: she has to control her blood sugar, otherwise she will die.”

Susko says she’ll always be worried for her daughter, but the research done by JDRF makes it a little bit easier.

She thanked the Lalondes for creating the fundraiser and being there for late night phone calls and text messages about Lexie’s condition.

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