Rickman/Brown Memorial Run to Benefit JDRF

Thursday, October 3, 2013
Karen Coomer and Bradley Dunlap introduce the poster boys for this year's Rickman/Brown Memorial Run at Friday's homecoming pep rally at PHS. The two young victims of the disease, Tyler Warbritton (left) and Tucker Dunlap, are working to promote the event and garner support for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

The third annual Rickman/Brown Memorial Run will be held beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, in Piggott. The 5K fun run and walk will begin in the parking lot of the South Thornton Street Church of Christ, at 745 South Thornton Avenue, and pre-registration is currently underway. The run is dedicated to the memories of two former Piggott students, Erica Rickman and Matthew Brown, who both lost gallant battles with cancer.

The first Rickman/Brown Memorial Run was held two years ago to benefit the family of Matthew Brown. Last fall the proceeds from the event were earmarked to help pay for a trophy case for the new PHS gym to be dedicated in their names.

This year the event, which is sponsored by the PHS Basketball Boosters and the South Thornton Street Church of Christ, will raise money for the fight against juvenile diabetes. Friday afternoon during the homecoming pep rally at PHS, this year's poster boys for the effort were introduced.

Tucker Dunlap and Tyler Warbritton are both students at Piggott Elementary School, and both were diagnosed with type 1 juvenile diabetes in 2012.

Tucker is the son of Bradley and Melinda Dunlap. Bradley is the newest member of the Piggott School Board, and as a parent of a child with diabetes understands the need for research and education, and for these reasons he supports the effort. "The JDFR has been the leader in the search for an end to type 1 diabetes for over 40 years," he noted. "During most of that time talk has centered on a cure, but we also now know a big part of the mission is to help those living with type 1 diabetes have a healthier, easier and safer life."

Dunlap also noted the word juvenile is also no longer descriptive of the disease or those burdened, as about 85 percent of those with type 1 diabetes in the United States are adults. "We must educate people that JDRF is an organization for all ages, and people in all stages of this disease," he noted.

Diabetes is the name given to disorders in which the human body has difficulties regulating blood glucose or blood sugar levels. The disease is normally categorized as either type 1 or type 2. Usually type 1 is referred to as juvenile diabetes, or insulin dependent diabetes, and this is caused by a disorder in the immune system. This causes the body's immune system to attack and destroy certain cells in the pancreas called beta cells. These cells normally produce insulin, but when they are destroyed glucose remains in the blood instead--where it can cause serious damage to the organ system.

As a result people with type 1 diabetes must take insulin to stay alive, usually enduring multiple injections each day or having insulin delivered through a pump. People with the disease must also carefully balance their food intake and exercise, and test their blood sugar several times each day.

Warning signs include extreme thirst, frequent urination, drowsiness or lethargy, sugar in urine, sudden vision changes, increase appetite, sudden weight loss, fruity sweet or wine-like odor on the breath, labored breathing, stupor and in extreme cases unconsciousness. If you, or one of your loved ones, exhibits these symptoms you should see a doctor as soon as possible.

And although type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children, researchers still don't know exactly what causes the ailment but they believe autoimmune, genetic and environmental factors all play a role.

Experts also note while insulin will allow a person with type 1 diabetes to stay alive, it does not cure the disease or prevent serious complications. The presence of high blood sugar often leads to damaged blood vessels, nerves and organ systems. The disease can, and often does, lead to cardiovascular disease, hypoglycemia, kidney disease, nerve damage and eye-related complications.

According to the JDRF, nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes and worldwide more than 371 million have been diagnosed with the disease. And, in the U.S. alone more than $245 billion is spent on healthcare costs related to the illness.

Since 1970 more than $1.7 billion has been spent on research funding by the JDFR, including more than $110 million in 2012. But, despite these efforts the number of people being diagnosed continues to rise.

Recently Tyler Warbritton put his experience with the disease into words.

"I've been struggling with type one diabetes since September of 2012. My symptoms were me being very tired all the time, going to the bathroom a lot and a sore that wouldn't heal. My mom got worried and took me to the doctor, and he checked my sugar and it was 600. Then they transported me in ambulance to Children's Hospital in Little Rock and I was there almost two weeks. My mom, Sherry Warbritton, and my aunt, Brittany Ralph, took classes to learn how to give me my insulin and check my sugar. I get four insulin shots a day, one in the morning, one at lunch, one for supper and then one for bedtime. While I'm at school the nurse, Mrs. Emily James, give me my insulin and takes great care of me. It has been a tough road for me, but with my family and friends support I know I'll be just fine!"

And, with the help of his parents, Tucker is also working to educate people about type 1 diabetes. Recently he was joined by his dad, who read a book on the subject to the entire first grade class at PES.

Organizations such as the JDRF also work diligently to provide information, and dispel myths about the disease. One common misconception is that diabetes is caused by obesity or eating too much sugar. Actually, while obesity has been singled out as a trigger for type 2 diabetes, it has no relation to type 1. Many also believe strict adherence to a diet and exercise plan is sufficient, but while this may work for some victims of the disease it can be very difficult for others. Other factors must be taken into account, including stress, periods of growth, hormone changes and other illnesses.

Many assume a person with diabetes can't participate in sports, but there are countless examples of athletes who have had great success while living with the disease. Another misconception concerns women with diabetes and pregnancy. In the past the outlook for pregnant women with diabetes was much worse, but recent advancements have improved the situation although it does require extra effort and commitment.

The Northeast Arkansas JDFR is also holding a walk to cure diabetes, set to begin at 8:30 a.m. this Saturday, Oct. 5 in Jonesboro. One of the team organizers is Destiny Hale, daughter of Rick and Becky (Petty) Hale of Jonesboro, and granddaughter of Buryl and Sharron Petty of Greenway. She was diagnosed earlier this year, and encourages everyone to support the JDRF. Those wanting to donate to Team Destiny may contact Sharon Petty at 870 783-0206 or Becky Hale at 870 897-4088.

All proceeds from this year's Rickman/Brown Memorial Run will also benefit the JDRF and the battle against the disease. The entry fee for runners or walkers is $10, or for the same cost you may sponsor a participant. Those wanting to help, but choosing not to run or walk, may do so by making a $20 donation and the entry fee for kids under the age of 12 is $5.

Organizers note lunch will be provided following the event, and they invite everyone to come out and be a part of the fundraiser. "You can run, walk or even ride your bike--just please make plans to participate," a spokesman noted.

Other fundraising efforts have also been organized for the JDRF, including a weekly "hat day" at PES. Throughout the year students will have the opportunity to make a donation for the privilege of wearing their favorite hat to school on Fridays, with the proceeds benefiting the fight against juvenile diabetes.

Those wanting more information, or to pre-register, for the Rickman/Brown Memorial Run may contact Karen Coomer at 870 598-4392 or Jeremy Pierce at 870 324-1575. For more information on the JDFR you may visit them online at www.JDRF.org

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