Published on October 18, 2013
Kolby Hardy, 7, squeezes blood from her finger so she can test her blood sugar levels. Hardy’s family is organizing P.E.I.’s first TELUS Walk to Cure Diabetes on P.E.I. Colin MacLean/Journal Pioneer
Published on October 18, 2013
The Hardy family of Victoria are (back) Dominic, 5, and Hayden, 8, and (in front) Stacey, Kolby, Greg and Karley. Colin MacLean/Journal Pioneer
Family working to bring Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation programs to P.E.I.
SUMMERSIDE – “Mom, how many more needles until I don’t have diabetes?”
Behold the innocent logic of a child.
Doctors + needles = all better.
But not for Kolby Hardy.
For this seven-year-old, a needle means a few more precious hours before she has to get another needle.
Stacey Hardy remembers vividly the first time the nurses at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital had to give her daughter an insulin injection.
It’s not a nice memory.
“She screamed and screamed – she asked ‘if I have the needle will the diabetes go away,'” recalled Stacey.
Now, more than a year later, Kolby has grown accustomed to the half dozen injections of insulin she receives on a daily basis – but she still dislikes the sight of blood and checking her sugar levels (via a prick to her finger) is still a chore.
Kolby has juvenile diabetes. Her pancreas no longer produces the insulin her body needs to absorb sugar from her blood.
As a result, she must religiously monitor her diet and blood sugar levels to avoid serious harm and potentially even death.
She was diagnosed in July of 2012 after her parents, Stacey and Greg Hardy of Victoria, took her to the doctor for a urinary problem.
All their lives changed that day.
Stacey and Greg got a crash course from health professionals on how to monitor their daughter’s sugar levels.
Kolby lost the ability to stray too far from anyone aware of how to help her. That meant no more sleepovers, no more eating anything in excess and a lifetime of constant vigilance.
“When Kolby was diagnosed – we were completely lost,” said Stacey.
“It’s a lot of information at once. Your whole life flips upside down. You feel lost and abandoned and nobody in your family understands.”
On P.E.I., people who are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes are paired up with the provincial diabetic education centre (DEC). The DEC helps them learn about their condition and monitor it.
It’s a good service, said Stacey, but unfortunately, P.E.I. is largely devoid of another organization that is directed specifically at helping kids like her daughter.
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) has no presence on the Island to speak of.
P.E.I. falls under the New Brunswick chapter of the foundation, so anyone who would like to avail themselves of the organization’s services has to deal with the representatives in that province.
This disconnect limits what services the foundation can offer here.
The Hardy’s are aiming to change that.
Stacey and her family have moved heaven and earth to organize P.E.I.’s first TELUS Walk to Cure Diabetes, the foundation’s signature fundraiser.
Why they do it
In most other parts of the country, the JDRF acts as not only a fundraising organization for juvenile diabetes related research, it’s also a support network for families.
JDRF organizes mentorship programs between recently diagnosed families and those who’ve been dealing with the condition for a long time, they hold family fun events, workshops, in-depth information sessions for parents counselling for kids as they age, and more.
When the Hardys discovered JDRF, and that most of its programs were not available here, they decided to change that.
The ultimate goal is to bring full JDRF programing here.
“To know that maybe we could get these programs here and maybe we could help other families so they wouldn’t have to go through what we did, would be amazing,” said Stacey.
Greg added that he believes it’s an attainable goal.
“There’s lots of things to be done – it takes time, but there’s lots of people to volunteer and help. It’s just a matter of getting it going and getting a foothold here,” he said.
When they’ll do it
They have since started a support group for juvenile diabetes families as a first step. The second is to raise awareness further via the walk.
Red Shores at Charlottetown is hosting the event on Nov. 3.
Registration is at 1 p.m., the walk starts at 2 p.m. and is expected to take less than an hour, there will be a family event to follow.
All are welcome to come and support the walk. The main goal of this first year is more to raise awareness than to raise money – though donations from the public are accepted.
Stacey would like to encourage everyone, especially families with juvenile diabetes members, to attend, network and build a foundation for a better life for their children.
“(Having people attend) would be the complete achievement of what we’re trying to accomplish. So the more people who come out to support us … it would mean the world. It would mean the community is there and they’re supporting us. And it would mean that there is hope – some days you feel like there’s none,” she said.
Anyone who would like to contact the JDRF office in Saint John, N.B. to register for what services are available should send a request to email@example.com.
Anyone would like to know more about the JDRF can go online to www.jdrf.ca.