The Mohonasen Central School District is organizing a Virtual JDRF Walk on May 23 to coincide with the national walk on the same day, which has gone virtual because of COVID-19. The walk supports finding a cure for Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) – or sudden-onset diabetes.
Mohonasen’s team – “Re’Anna’s Gang” – along with other participants and spectators, will gather at the high school track from 1 to 3 p.m. on the 23rd (rain or shine) in honor of Re’Anna Anderson – a popular, enthusiastic and kind 15-year-old ninth-grader who died Jan. 3 from T1D complications.
“Re’Anna was a vibrant and outgoing young woman,” said school Social Worker Diane Blinn. “She had a positive and caring attitude, and she was a good and supportive friend. She was always there for her friends, and never complained about her own struggles with T1D.“
One of Re’Anna’s good friends, ninth-grader Tatianna Burroughs, met her while both were students at Draper Middle School.
“She was a really good person,” Tatianna said. “She was really funny; she was happy all the time and she would raise the mood every time she walked into a room.”
T1D is an autoimmune disease that occurs when a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin – the hormone that controls blood-sugar levels. The cause is still being researched, and there is no cure, according to JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), which states that 1.6 million Americans are living with T1D, including 200,000 people younger than 20.
The goal of the five-mile walk – 20 times around the quarter-mile track – is to raise awareness and funds for T1D. The original fundraising goal of $500 has already been surpassed by a very generous Mohonasen community, but organizers are encouraging people to continue to sign up and to contribute.
“The momentum we have generated so far is inspiring,” Blinn said “What a wonderful way to honor the memory of Re’Anna. I encourage everyone to continue to contribute in whatever way they can, not just in Re’Anna’s memory, but in the name of so many students in our district who continue to live with diabetes. This is for them, as well, as we work to support finding a cure for T1D.”
All are welcome to join the walk. Groups of students younger than high school age are encouraged to have chaperones. Community members can donate and/or sign up to participate here: https://www2.jdrf.org/site/TR?fr_id=8248&pg=team&team_id=311698
Re’Anna will have many friends walking in her memory. Ninth-graders Bella Colaccino and Lacey Baum will be there. They remember (and miss) Re’Anna in similar ways – her smile, her laugh, her love of everyone. But she had a special, unique connection with all of her close friends.
“She always called me Lacey Bombshell because my last name is Baum,” Lacey said.
Bella added, “We would always scrunch our noses at each other when we passed in the hall,” just for a laugh.
Lacey, Bella and their friends lean on each other more than ever in the months since Re’Anna’s passing. “It’s brought us closer because we know the pain we are all going through.” Lacey said.
Community members can join Re’Anna’s Gang for all or some of the walk, or cheer them on from the bleachers.
They’ll cheer for everyone, but perhaps especially for Tatianna, Bella, Lacey and their classmates as they walk the track on May 23 and contemplate the life and friendship of Re’Anna Lee Anderson, who still lives in their hearts.
“I will really miss hanging out with her and talking about things, Tatianna said. “I’m really happy that she was my friend and that she was in my life.”
For more information about T1D, visit https://www.jdrf.org/. All district COVID protocols will be in place. Face masks and social distancing will be required.