Team uses bowl-a-thons as fundraiser for Juvenile Diabetes Research

Nick Stroman

Krista Higgins never expected her job as a paraprofessional at Beverly Manor School in Washington could benefit her 15-year-old daughter Kasha Fisher’s fight with diabetes.

Higgins already had bowling fundraisers every year at Plaza Lanes with Kasha’s Krusaders, a team fighting against juvenile diabetes.

In February, the team decided to  challenge both Beverly Manor and John L. Hensley schools to raise the most pocket change between the kids for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

She was shocked when more than $500 was collected between classes at both schools.

“The bowl-a-thons bring in over $3,000 and are a huge success, but this was a nice added bonus coming from Kasha’s grade school and my employer,” Higgins said.

Higgins said since Kasha was first diagnosed six years ago, the Washington schools have been very supportive of the team and working to make her daughter’s day run smoothly.

“They call me as requested for numbers of her sugars and are right there when I have to make any changes to her schedule,” Higgins said.

“I hope all kids with diabetes would experience this kind of support and if not, as a parent I would get right on it,” she added.

Higgins said just maintaining sugars at a normal level – between 70 and 120 – is a daily struggle for Kasha.

“She’s pretty good about it, but she is still a teenager and tends to sneak gum or a snack in without insulin,” Higgins remarked.

Higgins said the family has experienced some hospital visits, but nothing that was not taken care of immediately.

“It’s scary for me as a mother to see my child deal with this, but I’ve never taught my kids to feel sorry for themselves,” Higgins said.

“We just pray for a cure and if I could give my daughter my pancreas I would in a heartbeat,” she added.

Despite her diabetes, Kasha is still involved in softball and bicycling and normal teen activities such as going to the movies or hanging out at football games.

“It doesn’t slow her down at all,” Higgins added.

Higgins said Kasha has had to grow up faster because of her diabetes, but it has helped to have a strong family unit to start with.

“We face things head on as a family and I know God didn’t give me any more than I could handle,” she remarked.

Higgins said the family’s first experience with the JDRF walk was in Chicago when Kasha was first diagnosed in 2002.

“It was a great experience and beautiful day, but I don’t really know if at the time Kasha realized what it was all about,” Higgins said.

“She did enjoy the hula hoop contest though,” the mother said with a laugh.

Higgins said she is also confident there will be a cure for diabetes in Kasha’s lifetime.

“JDRF gives lots of support and are very committed to making people aware there is a need for more money, research and awareness,” Higgins said.

More than 4,000 people are expected to turn out for the Fourth Annual Central Illinois JDRF “Walk to Cure Diabetes” on Sunday at Glen Oak Park in Peoria.

Registration is at 11:30 a.m. with the walk stepping off at 1 p.m. Entertainment begins at noon.

Organizers are hoping to raise $342,000 for diabetes research this year.

For more information on donations or starting a team, visit www.jdrf.org.