By Jenna Jay
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) will hold its annual Walk to Cure Diabetes on Saturday, Nov. 12. bringing thousands of participants to Balboa Park for the 3K stroll or 5K walk to raise money for the fight against type 1 diabetes. Rallying troops for the walk in and around La Jolla High School is senior Christian Gimber, whose personal fundraising goal of $10,000 inches closer to fruition.
Gimber's team, aka Christian Gimber Family and Friends, has amassed more than $20,000 to date since Gimber was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 13 years ago. This year, the teen's $10,000 goal celebrates his efforts with the JDRF San Diego chapter before he relocates to an undecided college this fall.
"I hope that wherever I go, I can join a walk there, but I realize this is the last time I'll be doing this one with my family and friends here, so that's why I'm trying to make this the biggest effort and go out with a bang," Gimber said. "It's a big goal, but I want to cast my net big this year and try to get a lot of people involved."
Accompanied by a brigade of walkers, which even includes peers from his preschool class who have participated in the Walk to Cure Diabetes every year since his diagnosis, Gimber and his posse will have a notable presence at the event.
"I think the most important part of fundraising is going to the walk each year and seeing how many people type 1 diabetes affects, and all the support that's out there," he said. "Together, all these people make a huge difference to find a cure, and every year we get closer."
Since age 5, Gimber has lived with the "other" kind of diabetes; the lesser-known type 1. Not associated with obesity, poor diet or lack of exercise, as is the more common type 2 diabetes, type 1 is an autoimmune disease affecting the pancreas that is oftentimes (though not always) hereditary.
In a constant cycle of checking blood sugar and self-administering insulin, Gimber has learned to adapt to his diabetes. A water polo player and cross-country runner over the years, the disciplined teenager stays active and involved while managing his blood sugar.
"I definitely have to be a little more organized and responsible about what I eat, when I eat, just looking at the carbohydrate count on everything I eat and making sure I have enough insulin to cover it," Gimber said, adding that raising money to find a cure for type 1 diabetes is a top priority for him.
"It's not caused by something people can control," he said. "It's not that you don't exercise or didn't eat healthy. It's a lot of times just out of the blue. Sometimes it can be genetic, but in my case it wasn't, so it just happens. There's not really much you can do about preventing it, so that's why research is such a big deal."
For the Gimber family, this year's Walk to Cure Diabetes is a sort of passing of the torch, as Christian prepares to finish high school and enter the next phase of his life in college. Still, he recognizes that children and young adults are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes every day.
"Although it's not the majority of diabetes cases, type 1 still affects a lot of people," Gimber said.
If you go
What: Walk to Cure Diabetes
When: 8 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 12
Where: Balboa Park, 6th Avenue and Laurel Street
Contact: Alexis Rodriguez (JDRF), (858) 597-0240
Donations to Christian Gimber’s efforts: http://www2.jdrf.org/site/TR/Walk-CA/Chapter-SanDiego4053?px=1580626&pg=personal&fr_id=1553