Walkers take steps toward diabetes cure

joverman@fortmilltimes.comApril 15, 2013 

— Anthony Frattaroli, a fifth-grader at Sugar Creek Elementary School, is a swimmer and a runner, and likes to play basketball, too. He’s won a kid’s triathlon and recently ran an 8K.

“He’s a burner,” his dad, Scott Frattaroli, said. “There’s no pace. It’s just run.”

He goes to camp in the summers and spends time with his friends after school, just like every other kid does. But although Anthony can, and does, do all of the things that a typical fifth-grader can do, he also has to work around the daily challenges of living with Type 1 diabetes.

Anthony was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 10 years ago, when he was 9 months old. In between running and playing, he stops to check the carbohydrate count on every bite of food he puts in his mouth.

He tests his blood sugar six to eight times a day on his own at school and wears an insulin pump constantly, with an infusion site that must be rotated every two to three days.

“Since a very young age I’ve known how to handle my blood sugars, so I test myself now,” Anthony said.

At night, his parents wake at least once or twice to check Anthony’s blood sugar.

When Anthony races or is involved in sports, he and his parents have to monitor his blood sugar even more closely because exercise can cause a dip in his sugar levels.

“No matter where you are, what you’re doing, [diabetes] is always there,” Frattaroli said.

When Frattaroli and his wife were first faced with Anthony’s diagnosis, they were “in shell shock,” Frattaroli said.

“Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation was the first ray of hope we had,” he said.

Since then, the family has been raising funds for JDRF, hoping every year that the funds they raise could help JDRF with advancements in diabetes research and, eventually, a cure for the disease.

This year will be the 11th year the family has participated in the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes. The walk will be held on Saturday, April 27, at Carowinds.

The team, Anthony’s All Stars, is made up of the Frattaroli family and friends, some of whom fly in from other states just to participate each year. They set an annual fundraising goal of $10,000. In the 10 years they’ve participated, the team has raised more than $130,000.

“It’s really heartwarming to know that people care about me so much,” Anthony said. “People could have better things to do but they choose to do this instead of other things.”

Anthony’s All Stars raise money through donations from friends and family as well as fundraising events. Town Tavern will have an Anthony’s All Stars night on Wednesday, April 24, where donations will be accepted in support of the cause.

Julie Sawyer, owner of Tuff Girl Bootcamps, is holding a charity bootcamp on April 20 at The Palisades Sports Complex with all proceeds to benefit Anthony’s All Stars. A minimum $10 donation is suggested. For more information, go to http://www.tuffgirlbootcamps.com or call 803-984-0714.

In the decade that Anthony’s All Stars have been supporting JDRF through the Walk to Cure Diabetes, Frattaroli said that they’ve already seen significant advancements, including continuous glucose monitors, mobile apps and better pump technology as well as different types of insulin therapies.

All of which is significant for improving the life of a diabetic. But the cure is what they continue to strive for.

“We walk until there is a cure. We hope that we never have to do it again, every year,” Frattaroli said.

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