41,000 blood tests. 9,600 shots. 1,910 medical tubing injections.

And she’s only 17.

On April 11, 2006, my seven year-old niece Grace Chamberlain was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. This devastating disease ravaged her immune system and caused it to attack and kill its own pancreas, an organ vital for regulating blood sugar. Before this event, Grace was entirely healthy. Now, she is dependent on insulin injections and twenty-four hour monitoring for life. Worse still, she is not alone.

Every year, more than 30,000 people – approximately 80 per day – are diagnosed with T1D in the U.S. Half of these are children, and of the three million people already diagnosed, they account for a greater percentage every day. Between 2001 and 2009 alone, diagnoses in victims under age 20 have swelled by 23%, and the $14.9 billion in health care spending has only just managed to provide basic medical treatments needed to keep these children alive. These disturbing trends have shown no sign of slowing down.

Yet even worse are the burdens this potentially fatal disease poses for the victims and their families. For Grace, every day poses a new challenge. Insulin doses must be carefully balanced and administered continually throughout the day and night. Too much exercise, wrong measurements of food or insulin can be fatal. Blood glucose must be monitored on average 8 - 12 times a day by pricking the finger for blood.

Treatment kits are carried around the clock. Yet even all this cannot fully prevent organ failure, or a host of the disease’s more serious effects, such as blindness, nerve damage, heart attacks, strokes, and pregnancy complications. This disease strikes without warning regardless of diet or lifestyle, and can occur in anyone. There is nothing in the market to prevent T1D, and – at present – nothing that can get rid of it.

JDRF is working tirelessly to change this. Every dollar raised by ‘Team Grace’ helps to bring life-changing therapies to the table until this cure is found, and your contribution will make a world of difference.

If you’d like to donate, click on the Donate button below, and for every tax deductible donation of $25 or more, we’ll send you a cool JDRF Saddleback Leather bracelet.