Jaron Wiebe, a 12-year-old Royalwood resident and soccer player boasts some impressive statistics – in his lifetime he’s done 30,000 blood checks, had 15,000 needles and spoken to audiences of 600-plus.
These statistics have nothing to do with Jaron’s soccer game however.
Jaron has lived with type 1 diabetes since the age of 18 months, and with his family, he actively supports the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).
Type 1 diabetes is a chronic disease whereby the body does not make insulin, a hormone that enables the body to break down and use sugar for energy. As a result, patients require insulin on a daily basis, through injections or through a pump.
"We thought Jaron had the flu", parents Mike and Kristal Wiebe say of his initial diagnosis. "He wasn’t getting better, so our pediatrician told us to take him to Children’s Hospital".
"We knew something was seriously wrong when a team of five doctors met us at the door. Within 10 minutes, we had a diagnosis. We went through three days of training. We had no idea that Jaron would need insulin injections for the rest of his life" the Wiebes say.
"We connected with the JDRF once Jaron was a little older", they add. "We have volunteered with A Starry Starry Night, the TELUS Walk to Cure Diabetes, and the Ride for Diabetes Research".
Jaron has shared his story with corporate audiences exceeding 600 people to build awareness about Type 1 diabetes and the work of the JDRF.
When Jaron was 8 years old, he acted as a Youth Ambassador at A Starry Starry Night, Winnipeg’s annual annual JDFR gala fundraiser, which takes place this year on April 27 at the Winnipeg Convention Centre.
"My favourite part about A Starry Starry Night is the food", Jaron says. "When I was a Youth Ambassador, we had all kinds of snacks backstage before we went out, and each year the dinner is so good".
Jaron has been checking his own blood sugar levels and giving himself insulin injections for two years now.
"The thing I hate most about having type 1 diabetes is the inconvenience", he says. "Having to check my blood sugar and give myself insulin shots cuts into my recess time".
More than 300,000 Canadian children and adults live with type 1 diabetes. There is currently no cure. Individuals with Type 1 diabetes do not grow out of it – it is a life-long condition. They are at risk for developing complications, which may include blindness, kidney disease, nerve damage, stroke, heart disease and amputation.
Over the past 25 years, A Starry Starry Night has become a premier event in Winnipeg, raising nearly $4 million for Type 1 diabetes research.
Both corporate tables and private tickets are available for A Starry Starry Night. Silent auction donations and sponsorships are needed as well. Call the JDRF office at 204.953.4477 for more information, or visit www.astarrystarrynight.com