In November, we attended the Riley Children’s Hospital Annual Luncheon for a very special reason. It all began a couple months ago when we were contacted by Emerson’s endocrinologist who wanted to know if our family would be willing to participate in a video production that was going to be used in the fundraising efforts of the Riley Children’s Foundation, which provides extensive support and funding to Riley Children’s Hospital. Given the cause we agreed without hesitation – not realizing at the time that we would have to speak on camera! We soon learned that the video was going to be part of the program at the Riley Foundation Annual Luncheon, where donors are invited to listen to stories about different conditions affecting children and to hear directly from Riley patients - all to help the donors realize the impact of their support.
Although we felt very fortunate to have Emerson diagnosed and cared for at Riley – one of the country’s best children’s hospitals – we had not yet become all that familiar with the work and role of the Foundation. This left us not knowing what to expect at the luncheon. Soon after arriving it was clear that any expectation we would have developed would have been far exceeded. Riley hosts the annual luncheon each year to focus on selected diseases / conditions. This year Type 1 diabetes was one of the diseases highlighted, which is why the opportunity was extended to us.
During the portion of the luncheon focusing on Type 1, attendees heard some of Emerson’s diagnosis story as told by us and from her endo who disclosed that Emerson was the sickest diabetic kid she had seen in years. The video presentation also included interviews with diabetes researchers at Riley, who talked about the progress and developments being made towards curing this disease. At Riley they are not satisfied with improving the management of the disease and feel they are at the brink of finding a cure. They indicated that there has been an explosion in Type 1 research over the last ten years, which has translated to exponential growth in their learning about what causes the disease. This is all great news for everyone out there impacted in any way by this condition.
On our way home we began to look through the materials provided to attendees as they left the event. We were completely surprised by the fact that Type 1 diabetes research and care was the topic of a feature article in the Foundation’s annual report, and portions of our story and interview were included in the piece. We were ecstatic to see this as it was another way to further increase awareness of this disease.
However, we also left the luncheon with emotions on a different end of the spectrum. We heard some very touching stories of kids and families being impacted by far worse diseases and saw kids that would certainly give anything to be in Emerson’s shoes. There are days with diabetes that feel like nothing could be worse for your child but this was proof that we are actually very fortunate and that things could certainly be worse. It didn’t take us long to decide that we are going to support the Riley Children’s Foundation as much as possible going forward, along with our continued supporting of JDRF of course. We look forward to attending next year’s luncheon and hope we have future opportunities to help spread the awareness of this disease and to assist with fundraising on this scale.