CARLSBAD — For Ryan Maloney, cutting the ribbon at the start of the annual Walk to Cure Diabetes on Oct. 26 was fun. Having a videographer follow him while he walked through the campus of the University of California in San Diego was fun, too. But the best part of the day? “Walking with all my friends and getting to see all the other kids that have diabetes,” Ryan said.
The 9-year-old fourth-grader from La Costa Meadows Elementary School was one of nearly 4,000 who joined the teams of families, friends and colleagues to stride along a course that meandered through paths of eucalyptus trees.
All the while, Ryan was being filmed for a full-length documentary by an Emmy award-winning film crew.
The crew is working on a documentary that focuses on Ryan’s participation in the walk and his part in Team Insulindependence IronkiDz last summer.
Ryan was one 10 kids chosen to be part of Team Insulindependence’s IronkiDz and be in the documentary, which records the mentorship program between children and insulin-dependent triathletes. After a canoe adventure in the summer, the young team flew to Madison, Wis., to cheer on the Triabetes team.
Insulindependence, a San Diego-based nonprofit, is also the official charity of the Carlsbad Marathon and Half-Marathon. Team IronkiDz cheered on the triathletes and helped them monitor their blood sugar level, while learning important lessons along the way.
Ryan’s mom, Annette Maloney, said the goal of the mentorship was to give the children with diabetes an example of what they can achieve.
“That is definitely something I want to teach him,” Annette Maloney said. “That you can do anything … it may just be a little more work.”
Ryan has already found that he can. He is actively involved in school and he plays on a baseball travel team, Annette Maloney said.
The family has been involved in the annual walk since Ryan was 2 years old, Annette Maloney said. Three years ago, the walk, held annually in Carlsbad, combined with the one held on Mission Bay to create one large event, organizers said.
As many as 3 million Americans have Type 1 diabetes, a disease that is most often diagnosed in childhood and that strikes suddenly, lasts a lifetime and carries the constant threat of complications.
Research programs funded by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, or JDRF, offer hope in finding a cause and cure, and programs like Insulindependence offer education and inspiration.
Since the founding of JDRF in 1970 by parents of children with Type 1 diabetes, the foundation has awarded more than $1.16 billion to diabetes research, including more than $137 million in 2007.
For more information, contact Janette Wilke, outreach coordinator for the San Diego County Chapter of JDRF, at (858) 597-0240.