When Jazmyn Zynda trekked up the hills of Purgatory Creek Natural Area in San Marcos on Nov. 7, it was not without cause. She was hiking two-and-a-half-miles to raise funds for diabetes research.
That Sunday, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) held its annual One Walk, a fundraising event for Type 1 diabetes. Two members of the Texas State College Diabetes Network (CDN) walked in the event for the Southern Texas chapter of the JDRF, which raised over $900,000 through One Walk this year.
In November 2020, the JDRF held its first virtual One Walk in order to promote social distancing by allowing participants to dictate their own walking routes and track their own distances via the app Strava. In addition to One Walk, the JDRF hosts annual galas, bike rides and golf fundraisers.
Deandra Dillard, Associate Executive Director of the Southern Texas chapter of the JDRF, said that, despite the decrease in overall proceeds and in-person events, the JDRF is continuing to adapt to current limitations. She also said the Southern Texas chapter of the JDRF was specifically created as a method of furthering outreach amidst the pandemic.
In 2020, the JDRF raised $110 million through fundraising events. According to the JDRF Annual Financial Report, 80% of the proceeds from these events went towards supporting diabetes research, advocacy and management.
“JDRF’s walk has always been more than just a walk day,” said Dillard. “I mean it’s about giving our community an opportunity to tell their stories, to activate their networks, to advocate for the mission and also to raise money to find the cure for Type 1 diabetes.”
Dillard added that many college diabetics “do what they can” to support One Walk by advertising the event and encouraging donations when they lack the time to get out and walk.
Jazmyn Zynda, Texas State CDN Vice President and One Walk participant, believes the JDRF’s contributions to diabetes management are particularly vital for diabetics in college who struggle to afford proper health care.
“You can see the trend of insulin prices increasing, but the formula doesn’t change at all. There is no difference,” Zynda said. “It used to be like $20 and now it’s $500 for most people… You have to have a GoFundMe page every time you want one vial of insulin.”
The JDRF recently partnered with Beyond Type 1 to provide long-term access to insulin for diabetics who are regularly unable to afford it.
Zynda has participated in One Walk since she was 4. She said that she was proud to have raised $1,850 on her own this year but is eager to once again learn about different diabetes technology, eat food with carb labels and meet new diabetic friends at future, in-person JDRF fundraisers.
Sarah Douglas, Texas State CDN President, explained that the CDN could not walk as a group without submitting extensive paperwork to Texas State due to the organization’s school affiliation.
Zynda and one other member walked individually in the event this year, while other members shared information about the event online and had relatives who walked on behalf of them.
“The JDRF fundraiser illuminates just how much love and support there is for the diabetic community,” Douglas said. “I would love for the CDN to volunteer at the event or walk as a group in the near future.”
Douglas founded the Texas State CDN at the beginning of 2019, after coming to Texas State as an out-of-state student.
“I had genuine fears of how I was supposed to obtain everything I needed to survive while being so far from home,” Douglas said. “My goal was to foster a network of support and understanding.”
The Texas State CDN has grown from four members to over 30 members since its first meeting and recently partnered with the Office of Disability Services to educate the Texas State community.
“We know diabetes does not stop us from excelling at life, so I want that to be ingrained in the minds of other students as well,” Douglas said.
The Texas State CDN plans to host a booth on campus next semester that will spread awareness for Type 1 diabetes and advertise events such as the One Walk to increase participation among Texas State students.