When Stephen Bartlett’s daughter, Kaylee, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2006, he was unsure of where to turn for help. The statistics were overwhelming–3 million Americans have Type 1, 85 percent of whom are adults. He was aware of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) because he had made donations over the years to Alagasco co-workers who were raising money for the organization, but he had never taken an active role.
But in 2006, things changed. Stephen, with his seven-year old daughter by his side, created a team made up of family members and Alagasco employees to raise money for JDRF.
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation was founded in 1970 by parents with children affected by Type 1 diabetes. Each year, teams in Alabama raise money in conjunction with the Birmingham Walk to Cure Diabetes.
Stephen joined Sara Long, a co-worker who had been raising money for JDRF for years and also has a child with Type 1 diabetes, as co-captain of the Alagasco team. Each year, 10 to 15 volunteers join this team in hopes of raising $10,000. Stephen’s family team, made up of captain, Kaylee, plus his wife, their two other daughters–Rylee and Emylee–and various other family members, reach for the same goal. One year, Kaylee raised $900 just by recycling aluminum cans!
Finding donations is never boring, Stephen told us. The corporate team raises money in a variety of ways–bake sales, silent auctions, etc. One year, they even held a pie-in-the-face fundraiser. Fellow employees, Jonathan Schniper and Ryan Williams, planned the event and raised more than $2,000 by having several managers and executives volunteer to let employees throw whipped cream pies at them for $5 each. “It was a fun event, but we learned quickly that it should have been done outdoors rather than in the Alagasco office,” said Stephen. Each year, he tries to think of fun ways to get people involved–while keeping the office clean!
Eighty percent of the money donated to the organization goes directly to research for cures for juvenile diabetes, and he has seen what donations can do. “The artificial pancreas project is the most exciting thing I have witnessed since joining the organization. They are looking to do a human trial soon. Patients would wear a pump that automatically adjusts to fit the glucose levels of the person using it. Things have come a long way in just a few years,” said Stephen.
While Stephen has found it harder to raise money over the years because of the economic downturn, Alagasco helps the fundraising of its employees by matching all donations of $25 or more. Stephen is grateful for the company’s help and knows that without support, advancements in research wouldn’t be as quick to come by.
Birmingham Walk to Cure Diabetes is September 23, 2012. For more information about the fundraiser, click here.