Cure for diabetes focus of annual walk

More than $80,000 was raised for research at JDRF’s Telus Walk to Cure Diabetes Sunday in Kelowna

As of yet, there is no cure for type 1 diabetes.

But with annual fundraising efforts such as the JDRF Telus Walk to Cure Diabetes, there is hope that day won’t be far away.

More than 500 people turned out Sunday for the 2017 walk at Mission Creek Park and in the process raised $84, 717.

Ninety per cent of those funds will be earmarked for research to find a cure for diabetes.

In 16 years since it began in Kelowna, the walk has raised just over $2 million.

Kelowna’s Tyler McClellan, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 14, has lived almost two-thirds of his life with the affliction. An active triathlete despite the disease, McClellan says events like Sunday’s walk are invaluable to the future of all diabetics.

“It means a lot to type 1 diabetics in the world, in B.C., in Canada,” he said. “I’m just about 40 now, I’ve been a diabetic for 26 years, I might not get the chance to be cured but by this, but a lot of the young people that are here today might have that opportunity.

“That’s what we want to accomplish, we raise money for that specific thing, we want to accomplish this just like any other disease that is out there and we’re working that.”

While a cure has yet to be found, the treatment and management of type 1 diabetes has taken considerable steps forward in recent years.

Shannon Polley, manager of fundraising and development for JDRF Kelowna, is encouraged by the progress made in research to date and the possibilities that lie ahead.

“Just how far we’ve come over the last several years and where were are from a treatment perspective, it’s like night and day,” said Polley. “But we can’t take our foot off the gas. We have to continue to look for answers and do what we can to help fund the research that’s needed to finally find a cure.”

This year’s edition of the walk has pushed the bar to a new level, raising $12,000 more than the 2016 event.

“We’re very happy with the response of the type 1 community and the people of Kelowna,” added Polley. “We’re humbled by the amount of support this has received.”

More than 50 JDRF walks are held annually across Canada, with close to $6 million being raised each year.