Making a difference: Seven Islander youths raise thousands to find a cure for juvenile diabetes
By Reporter staff

At the annual Nordstrom Beat the Bridge event on May 20, the goal for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) was clear: to raise more than $1.13 million to help find a cure for juvenile diabetes. Seven Mercer Island children, all of whom have Type I diabetes, participated in this year’s Beat the Bridge and together raised $61,895.

The Islanders included:

  • Katie McDonald, a 13-year-old in seventh grade, who was diagnosed with diabetes a year ago. This year was the first time she participated, and her team raised $17,805.

  • Nine-year-old Sam Bahn was diagnosed with diabetes in 2003. This year his team raised $14,310, bringing his four-year participation total to more than $50,000.

  • Marina Kuhns is 18 and a graduating senior. She was diagnosed in 1992, at the age of 3. She has participated in Beat the Bridge for 15 years, raising almost $80,000. This year she raised $2,525.

  • Eight-year-old Megan Charney was diagnosed with diabetes when she was 5. She has participated in Beat the Bridge for two years, and participated one year in a similar event in Dayton, Ohio. Cumulatively, she has raised $18,000.

  • Laura Brindley is 13, and was diagnosed in 1999. Since her diagnosis, she has participated yearly in Beat the Bridge, raising more than $18,000. This year, along with “Team Laura,” she raised $9,575.

  • Elise Johnson, who is 13, was diagnosed in 2005. Last year her team raised $7,500. This year she raised $5,835.

  • Jacqueline Bendrick is in fifth grade. She was diagnosed when she was 16 months old. She has raised $5,045 to date.

    Since the first Beat the Bridge to Beat Diabetes race in 1983, Nordstrom has partnered with the JDRF to find a cure for diabetes and its related complications through the support of research. More than $.83 of every dollar JDRF receives goes toward research.

    Each year, more than 30,000 new cases of juvenile diabetes are diagnosed, according to the JDRF. Diabetes affects more than 21 million people in the United States, a large and growing percentage of whom are children. The disease and its complications cost more than $182 billion dollars each year and touch as many as 25 percent of all Americans. Juvenile (Type I) Diabetes differs from adult-onset Type II diabetes. Most people affected by Type I diabetes are otherwise healthy and of a healthy weight when onset occurs. Diet and exercise cannot reverse or prevent Type I diabetes.

    For more information about Beat the Bridge, visit For more information on diabetes and JDRF’s fight to find a cure, visit

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