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Student leads charge against juvenile diabetes

Jacqueline Bendrick and former Olympic athlete Gary Hall Jr. during this year’s Beat the Bridge event. - Contributed Photo
Jacqueline Bendrick and former Olympic athlete Gary Hall Jr. during this year’s Beat the Bridge event.
— image credit: Contributed Photo

Jacqueline Bendrick, a 13-year-old Islander, has advocated juvenile diabetes research for the past year as Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s (JDRF) Youth Ambassador.

Her duties ended on Sunday, May 16, when the Beat the Bridge to Beat Diabetes run/walk took place in Seattle, where several Islanders supported her and three million Americans with juvenile diabetes.

Bendrick’s family has been active in Beat the Bridge for 12 years, ever since she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes — also known as type 1 diabetes — in 1997 at 16 months. Type 1 diabetes causes the body’s own immune system to attack insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Whatever triggers this trauma is a mystery, and Beat the Bridge fundraising supports research to find a cure.

This year’s run/walk event raised $1.3 million, and the donations are still rolling in. To donate to juvenile diabetes research, go to www.beatthebridge.org.

Thanks to Bendrick’s advocacy for her disease, researchers have funds to work toward a cure and public awareness of juvenile diabetes has increased from Bendrick’s speeches.

Twelve years ago, a health care provider failed to diagnose Bendrick with type 1 diabetes despite common symptoms and instead decided that her constant whining and insatiable thirst was caused by her mother’s anxiety affecting her. The work of JDRF and Bendrick herself is helping kids with juvenile diabetes to be diagnosed earlier, therefore improving their chances of leading a healthy life.

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