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Diabetes walk a huge success

The quest to find a cure for juvenile diabetes took another big step June 2 when 115 Westlock walkers raised more than $20,000 at the Telus Walk to Cure Diabetes, surpassing the $17,000 goal.
Graham Schole (centre) and Ryley Patriquin (third from right) help to cut the ribbon opening the ninth Walk to Cure Diabetes June 2 at the Westlock Rec Centre. The
Graham Schole (centre) and Ryley Patriquin (third from right) help to cut the ribbon opening the ninth Walk to Cure Diabetes June 2 at the Westlock Rec Centre. The five-kilometre walk raised more than $20,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to fund research to find a cure for juvenile diabetes.

The quest to find a cure for juvenile diabetes took another big step June 2 when 115 Westlock walkers raised more than $20,000 at the Telus Walk to Cure Diabetes, surpassing the $17,000 goal.

In the nine years the walk has taken place in Westlock, it’s raised more than $150,000, said organizing committee member Val Hampshire.

“We’re very happy with it and we’d like to thank the community for all the support over the years,” she said.

Every year, the walk features ambassadors, who are children who have diabetes. This year’s ambassadors were Graham Schole, 15, and Ryley Patriquin, 13.

“It means a lot to take part in the walk,” Patriquin said. “I want to help find a cure and make it easier to be a kid and have fun.”

She was first diagnosed with diabetes when she was 10, she said, and added it’s been a major change in her life.

“It can be hard,” she said. “It’s always with you and it never goes away.”

Patriquin helped to organize a walk at her school in Thorhild in order to get her fellow students involved in helping the cause. However, she admitted it’s a bit hard to get them excited.

At the walk, she and her family had formed a team to raise money collectively. The team’s name was “Team Believe,” which she came to her when listening to the radio and coming across the song Fireflies by Owl City. The song has the theme of believing, and Patriquin said that would make a good team name.

For Norm Reynolds, taking part in the walk is not as personal as it is for Patriquin, but the disease still affects his family.

Reynolds is Graham Schole’s is cousin, and was taking part in the walk for the first time because he was in the area, he said.

Although he had never been part of the walk before, he said he has been contributing for the past two to three years, in order to help Schole and other kids who have the disease.

The June 2 walk in Westlock is one of several walks in communities across Alberta and the rest of Canada, said Pat McCormack, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) chair for the northern Alberta chapter.

The mission of the foundation is to find a cure through research, he said, adding that the JDRF is strictly focused on that research, much of which is done right in Edmonton.

He said the Westlock walk has always been successful, both in terms of turnout and money raised, adding the walk continues to drive home an important message about diabetes.

“These are children who are suffering a debilitating disease through no fault of their own,” McCormack said. “They have no choice when they get it.”