Jenny Rasmussen of Dexter is no stranger to diabetes — her son Ryan was diagnosed with the disease at a very young age.
Just 21 months old, Ryan went to the emergency room and found out that he has Type 1 (Juvenile) diabetes.
"At the time we didn't know what was wrong," Rasmussen said. "Doctors thought it was night terrors. He would wake up in the middle of the night for two hours and drink water nonstop."
Rasmussen said after weeks of persistence, doctors finally ran a urine test to rule out diabetes.
Today Ryan, 9, a fourth grade student at Dexter Community Schools, is insulin dependent for the rest of his life. The diagnosis includes things like testing blood sugar, counting carbohydrates and operating insulin pumps worn throughout the day - not the type of things boys at his age have to worry about.
That's why the Rasmussen family, along with other family members and friends, will participate in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Walk to Cure Diabetes on Sunday at Hudson Mills Metropark in Dexter, just as they have for the past seven years.
"Eighty percent of the money we raise goes to research. Within the eight years since Ryan has been diagnosed, we've seen some major strides in the medical field," Rasmussen said. "They tell us that there's a cure in his lifetime, and I believe it. (JDRF) has come so close to a cure; they've opened up the doors of hope not just for kids, but adults, too."
According to JDRF, about 80 people a day are diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and about half of them are children.
Rasmussen's team raised $10,000 for the walk last year via a letter writing campaign, bringing the team's seven-year total to $80,000.
"We're going to keep plugging away at fundraising," she said. "We might not make our goal this year, but we are allowed to continue fundraising up to one month after the walk."
Last year, the Hudson Mills Walk raised $706,252 and welcomed approximately 2,500 people, according to Rita Combest, associate executive director of the JDRF Metro Detroit & Southeast Michigan Chapter.
Rasmussen said the event is something that her family looks forward to every year.
"It's like a big homecoming," she said. "You get to meet new families and network with people who are in the same boat as you. It's a lot of fun."
Walks will feature food, entertainment, children’s activities and special attractions. Walkers will enjoy a 5K stroll through Hudson Mills beginning at 9:30 a.m., rain or shine.
For more information about the walk, visit walk.jdrf.org.