Blue Ridge students organize diabetes walk

MANSFIELD — Three students at Blue Ridge Junior High dream about a day when they can say they used to have diabetes. And they are doing their part to turn that dream into a reality.

Matthew Bozarth, Kylie Moubry, and Levi Hamm all have Type 1 diabetes. The three classmates share a common diagnosis, but they also share a strong desire to help the cause, which is why they helped organize a Diabetes Walk on May 17 at the junior high.

All of the money raised at the walk, which will take place from 1-2 p.m., will go to the American Diabetes Association to help find a cure.

The walk will include a DJ, health and wellness booths, and healthy food and drinks. The Zoo Lady from Bloomington will also be on site to do face-painting. The student who raises the most money for the walk will win a $100 Visa gift card. Drawings will also be held to give away additional gift cards. Students who raise at least $10 will receive a water bottle. T-shirts will be given to those students who raise $20.

Hamm, 13, expressed interest about organizing a diabetes walk at the beginning of the school year. His parents spoke with Megan Otto, the junior high student council adviser, about the possibility of putting an event like this together.

Otto, who is also the junoir high library clerk, said the student council tries to hold a fundraiser for different causes every year. Raising money for diabetes seemed like a good idea this year considering three students live with the condition, she said.

"Since we have three kids at the junior high that it affects, we though it would be a good time to support them," Otto said.

The community has been very supportive of the event as well, she said. The fruits and vegetable snacks are being donated by Farmer City Market and McKinley Water Conditioning is giving away free water at the walk.

"I've been really amazed at all of the community support," Otto said. "It should be really fun and the kids are very excited."

Otto admits to not knowing much about diabetes before she had Bozarth, Hamm, and Moubry as students but says they are positive role models who are willing to educate anyone about the disease.

"These kids are very mature, and they know a lot about (diabetes). That makes such a difference in how they present that to their classmates," she said.

Overall, Otto says their fellow students are very supportive of them, which she believes, "says a lot for our school."

Moubry, 14, of Mansfield, said she never uses diabetes as an excuse at school or anywhere else because she wouldn't want to set a bad example for anyone. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 3 years old. She says she's really not that different than any other kid except she has to watch what she eats and keep track of her blood sugar levels.

"I can go swimming. I can play sports. I can go to the movies. I can talk to friends. I just have to watch myself and eat sugar within moderation," she said.

All three students are optimistic that diabetes is not something they will have to live with for the rest of their lives.

"I honestly believe a couple of years from now, (a cure) will be found," Bozarth said.

If any other local business would like to set up a booth to promote health and wellness, contact Otto at the junior high at 217-489-5201.

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