This year marked the third annual Ford Race to End Diabetes in Oakville, Ont. It’s an event that has strived to have a large impact on the search to discover a cure for the disease.

Jessica Berzin
“Every single person here today is making a difference and helping to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes through their fundraising and support of this event.”

According to Jessica Berzins, Senior Fundraising & Development Coordinator at JDRF Canada, there are currently over 300,000 Canadians diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and over three million Canadians that live with some form of diabetes. JDRF is a foundation devoted to finding a cure for the disease that is becoming all too common.

These numbers are significant and it’s very likely that someone you know has been diagnosed with diabetes. That’s why Ford thinks it’s important to fight for a cure.

“Ford believes in supporting the community in which they work and live, right here in Oakville,” said Jessica, adding that the blue oval is the largest global sponsor of JDRF.

Dana Goodfellow, who is part of the committee that started the Race over three years ago, mentioned that the key message for the run is “awareness.”

“(Researchers) are getting close and the clinical trials are happening right here in Southern Ontario – it just really brings it close to home.”

At the starting line
And they’re off!

 

8-year-old Aislynn’s message

8-year-old Aislynn
Aislynn McNaught

At the event we met a brave and incredibly well-spoken 8-year-old named Aislynn McNaught. Confident and full of poise, she took the stage as an ambassador for JDRF and delivered a speech addressing an audience of just under 400 people. Taking time to thank everyone for supporting “kids just like her,” she spoke about her experience living with Type 1 diabetes.

Pump
Aislynn speaks to the crowd, explaining her use of a pump for her condition.

Aislynn recently began wearing an insulin pump and described the responsibilities that come with using the device.

“I have to insert a needle that is connected to my pump and I have to change the site every three days,” she said. “I also wear a continuous glucose monitor that reads my blood sugar. I have to change this every six days. I test my blood sugar up to 12 times a day by poking my finger. All of this does hurt, but I know this is the best way for me to take care of myself.”

This special young lady also revealed her personal connection to JDRF’s largest global supporter: “I would like to thank Ford for having this day and helping to raise money for a cure. My family has a close connection with Ford. My papa is retired but worked at Ford for 39 years and my uncle has worked there for 10. When our family gathers at my grandma’s for a holiday dinner and you look out the window, all you see are a fleet of Fords parked on the road. Thank you for your support.”

 

A busy 15 years supporting JDRF

Dianne Craig, President and CEO of Ford of Canada, is a huge supporter of community events.

“We’ve been really busy at Ford over the last 15 years. Globally we’re the largest sponsor and contributor to JDRF,” she said before the race. “Over the last 15 years, we’ve raised $42 million as a company, which is just incredible. It just goes to show what a difference people can make when they come together. Here in Oakville we are so proud.”

Dianne, Aislynn and Pam
Dianne Craig, left, is pictured with Aislynn McNaught and Pam Damoff, an Oakville Town Councillor. “All the employees of Ford of Canada raised so much more money this year just because of this darling little girl and how brave she is,” Dianne said of Aislynn.

“Going Further”

Pam Damoff, Oakville Town Councillor for Ward 2 (who we met last year in Oakville at the 2012 Terry Fox Run), was present with an important message for her local community: “I looked at my t-shirt today and on it, it says, ‘Go Further.’ While a lot of advances have been made, we need to go further until we’ve got a cure for juvenile diabetes so that people like these young children do not have to go through what they go through.”

Local Oakville dealerships making a difference

It was incredible to see the local Ford dealerships, Oak-land Ford Lincoln and Kennedy Ford, taking part in the event. Mike Herniak, General Manager for Ford of Canada for the Eastern Market area, also participated in the 5-kilometre run. “When you think of Ford, it really is a family-owned and operated company,” he said. “It’s amazing to be here with our Ford of Canada team, with our dealership teams partnering together. Not only are they contributing financially, but they are here in the community to participate with our friends to really help out such a worthwhile cause.”

Ford Family Affair
Virginia Swindall, behind, raised the most for the Oakville run. Her daughter Kaitlyn, in front, was recently diagnosed with diabetes. Aislynn McNaught is pictured in the middle.

 

Fundraising success

To date the Oakville run is just one event supporting Ford’s global cause. In only three years, the Ford Run to End Diabetes 5 km run has raised over $100,000.

It was very fitting that the person who raised the most for the Oakville run was Virginia Swindall, a Ford employee and mother whose daughter, Kaitlyn was recently diagnosed with diabetes.

Has anyone in your life been affected by diabetes? Please share your story with us in the comments below.