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Kids Battle Diabetes awards over $30K for Type 1 research

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Pictured, from left, Christopher Lee, John McDearman, Tim Diffenderfer, Eric Pittel, Tricia Hegna, Rick Martin, State Rep. Susan Lynn, William E. Russell, Terry Burns, Justin Burns, Cindy Lybarger, Doretha Wright and Tom Young. SUBMITTED

Kids Battle Diabetes recently presented a check for $33,000 to Vanderbilt Eskind Diabetes Center - money raised in October via the Kids Battle Diabetes Second Annual Golf Classic at Five Oaks Golf & Country Club.

The Children's Diabetes Program at Vanderbilt is committed to providing world-class patient care, comprehensive education and outreach programs, cutting-edge research and to training tomorrow's specialists in children's diabetes. The program is one of the largest in the country and is recognized by the American Diabetes Association for its efforts to help children and adolescents with diabetes.

The non-profit Kids Battle Diabetes was founded in 2014 by Rick Martin of Watertown. Martin's son suffers from Type 1 diabetes, and his vision is to see a world without diabetes so that no other families have to suffer. The mission of Kids Battle Diabetes is to bring awareness to Type 1 diabetes through education and by supporting research efforts that enhance the lives of children and youth so that they can live healthy lives as adults.

The inaugural golf tournament raised over $20,000, and the money was used to purchase a retinopathy screening eye examination machine for the Vanderbilt Eskind Diabetes Center. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. Blindness is more common in people with Type 1 (juvenile onset) diabetes than in Type 2 (adult onset) diabetes. Up to 15 percent of people who have had Type 1 diabetes for more than 10 years already have signs of diabetic eye damage. Only seven percent of children have had retinopathy screening, and the program at the Eskind Diabetes Center will be the first of its kind in the nation.

"I'm very grateful for the support of our sponsors, volunteers, family and friends who have helped make this event possible," Martin said. "The cause is a very worthy one, and I hope that one day we can find a cure for diabetes. Proceeds from this event will help improve the quality of life of children throughout our state."

During the presentation to Vanderbilt, Kids Battle Diabetes was presented with a check for $10,000 by Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation (MTEMC). The grant was part of MTEMC's Customer Care program.

Helping with this year's fund-raiser were two families whose children also have Type 1 - Artie and Leslie Sevelius and Tammy Gose and her son. Tricia Hegna, legislative assistant to State Rep. Susan Lynn, also provided assistance. Hegna is a veteran of charitable event planning, having been formerly employed by Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

Lynn serves on the Kids Battle Diabetes board. Last year, her 28-month-old grandson was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

"I pray that we see Type 1 cured. Parents need more education as to the symptoms. Far too many children nearly die because the onset of the illness is often confused with the flu, so treatment is often delayed to a critical point," Lynn said. "I plan to introduce legislation to bring more awareness. Too many children are diagnosed mere hours away from death because the indicators are not understood and therefore not shared with the family physician."

Approximately 15,000 children will be diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes this year, and each year that number grows by three percent. Statistically, Vanderbilt sees 275 new cases per year.

The 2016 Kids Battle Diabetes Golf Classic will be held on Oct. 3. For more information about Kids Battle Diabetes, call (615) 351-2005 or visit www.facebook.com/KidsBattleDiabetes.

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