When Lake High School seniors Jordan Meade and Austin Coldsnow decided upon a National Honor Society project, the pair chose an event that – punfully intended – truly had legs.
"Each (NHS) project has to benefit someone else and we knew JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) hosts walks a lot," Meade said of the impetus behind the creation of the two-mile Lake JDRF Walk, which will step off at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Lake Community YMCA, 428 King Church Ave. S.W.
Check in is at 9 a.m. and minimum donations are $15 per person and $60 per team of four.
The walk will also include free informational booths, a bounce house, a raffle, as well as Chipotle chips and salsa bar, pizza, water, and cookies.
Nationally, JDRF One Walk has a single goal: creating a world without Type 1 diabetes. Meade and Coldsnow’s event is one of hundreds of JDRF One Walks across the country.
Meade called the walk to cure diabetes, all of the proceeds from which will go to JDRF, a project that is "close to our hearts, as both Austin and myself are juvenile diabetics."
"I just want people of all ages to be more educated about the misnomers (of Type 1 diabetes)," Meade said of the larger goal of the NHS project. "People hear ‘diabetes’ and they think it is all the same. We want to get people to step back and know what it is like for us."
While she remains physically active since being diagnosed two years ago, Meade said her daily – and nightly – routine changed drastically, to include checking her blood every two hours, determining insulin to carbohydrate ratios, and regular rounds of insulin shots.
"But people don’t understand that I can eat anything I want – cookies, cake – where with Type 2, you have to watch your sugar content," she said.
Type 2, typically referred to as adult diabetes, can also be controlled and sometimes reversed by diet. There is no cure for Type 1, or juvenile, diabetes.
Meade said she began her freshman year at Lake as a student athlete, "going through everyday life blissfully ignorant of what my twin sister (Jaelyn) went through every day with Type 1 Diabetes."
On Sept. 25, 2013, Meade too was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
"I battled highs and lows in the beginning," she said. "Eventually, I gained control with my parents’ guidance and knowledge."
After three months of finger pricks, insulin shots and "learning the disease," Meade was able to acquire an Omnipod insulin pump. Almost three years later, she is still a student athlete, in all honors and AP courses, and playing travel softball for Ohio Ice Gold.
"I never let my disease slow me down, but I never want another individual to experience what I did; taking a large amount of responsibility at a young age," Meade said.
Prevention over treatment
Coldsnow was only 5 years old when he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
"What people don’t realize is this disease does not go away; it’s not food related and it’s not contagious," he said. "I have to monitor it every day. I tested with finger sticks over 55,000 times, I’ve had 6,000 injections prior to fourth grade, when I got the insulin pump."
However, Coldsnow said, he still much test his blood sugar at least twice each night and carry’s a bag with "crucial items" at all times
"I do my best not to let diabetes define who I am or limit what I can do - I stay on top of my grades and participate in various sports while managing my blood sugar," he said.
This includes being a member of a national Level soccer team.
"I want there to be a cure," Coldsnow said. "It is a billion dollar industry that treats this diagnosis, my wish is for that industry to put back some of that money into curing - not just treating - diabetes."
Meade said she is proud of the interest she and Coldsnow have been able to generate around the walk, particularly being two high school students in a relatively small community. A week before the walk, the duo had attracted 12 sponsors, signed up 100 participants, and raised more than $700.
The project has also had some ancillary benefits for the NHS students.
"I feel it’s exposed both of us to the business aspects – like tax forms for the 501-C3 and sponsorships, collecting money, opening a checking account, and just getting all our ducks in a row," said Meade, who is planning on pursuing a career as a neonatologist.
"Just because you are in National Honor Society doesn’t mean you can just ask for money," she added with a laugh.