By Alexa Kelber
The brothers of Delta Epsilon Psi (DEPsi) and Delta Tau Delta (DTD) co-hosted a philanthropic week for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) from Monday, Nov. 9, to Friday, Nov. 13. A variety of fundraisers and awareness events took place daily around the College’s campus, inviting students to learn about Type 1 diabetes in a casual and unconventional setting.
“We were looking to years passed to figure out an event for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation,” said Aakash Trivedi, a junior biomedical engineering major and brother of DEPsi. “Five guys in our newest pledge class had the idea to plan a whole week around it.”
JDRF Week began on Monday night with a Zumba class in the Business Building Lounge at 8 p.m. While setting up a $10 T-shirt display as another method of raising money for the cause, Darshak Vekaria, a junior biology major, explained the reason behind selecting this type of activity to kick off the week.
“One of the major reasons for diabetes is lack of exercise,” said Vekaria, a brother of DEPsi. “This event is an interactive way to get people moving.”
As spectators documented their friends looking awkward via Snapchat, participants didn’t mind looking silly for a good cause.
“Zumba is super fun — everyone likes to dance and it was a lot more fun than a speaker,” Tori Bell, a junior history major said.
Tuesday’s smoothie sale fell on the perfect day, serving as a vehicle to burst through the gray gloom on a pre-hump day afternoon. Fusions of yogurt, strawberries and bananas sat aloft a banner hanging in front of a table reading, “Committing to a life of excellence means helping others do the same.”
The quote portrayed tackling a huge cause like Type 1 diabetes as a little less overwhelming and a little more attainable.
Chelcie Rice, a stand-up comedian from Atlanta, performed Wednesday, Nov. 11, in the Education Building for “Sugar-Free Comedy” night. It was a light-hearted mid-week function, as Rice, who also happens to be a Type 1 diabetic, intertwined himself with the cause.
Aliz Holzmann, the College’s nutritionist, opened for Rice in a talk about nutrition across college campuses.
“I think she did a great job,” Vekaria said. “Most people are misinformed about healthy eating.”
Rice’s inescapable relationship with diabetes enables him to poke fun at his own health situation without offending others who share the same illness.
He alluded to his college days and how his incessant need to go to the bathroom (a symptom of Type 1 diabetes) led his roommate to schedule a doctor’s appointment behind his back, where the doctor diagnosed him with diabetes in a rather causal way.
Anecdotal stories like this exemplified that diabetes does not have to be something that defines a person’s life.
“Diabetes is a cruel disease... Mind you, diabetes doesn’t get as much attention as other diseases, like cancer,” Rice said. “I think it’s simply because cancer has cooler spokespeople,” referring to “cool, tough dudes” like John Wayne and Lance Armstrong.
Rice was extremely effective in joking about his experience with diabetes but never looking down upon it, an important message that resonated with the audience.
The Sugar Spike-Off Volleyball Tournament on Thursday, Nov. 12, allowed different teams to display their athleticism in the form of friendly competition.
Nine teams participated in the week’s main fundraiser and the turn out showed strong campus-wide support.
It also helped that the first place prize was a $75 gift card to Piccolo Trattoria’s.
“There’s usually a lot of late night eating, but not a lot of late night physical activity,” Casey Donohue, a senior communications major said. Donohue was in attendance to root on his fraternity’s team, Phi Alpha Delta. “This brought Greek Life together in a great and healthy way.”
Unfortunately, Friday’s lip sync competition had to be cancelled due to technical difficulties. This did not put a damper on the overall success of the week, however.
“It has been very successful,” said Pat Monaghan, DTD philanthropy chair and a junior interactive multimedia major. “People seemed to have enjoyed Zumba, low sugar smoothies and Mr. Rice the most.
“But it’s definitely been stressful,” Monaghan said. “Making sure people come out to our events and that the events are issue-free is a lot to ask for.”
JDRF Week raised awareness about a cause that does not get much attention. The technicalities of the week were overshadowed by the positive impact it had in the lives of those who opened up to learn more about Type 1 diabetes.
Rice said it best: “TCNJ was the first school I performed at, but what really blew me away was how many students with absolutely no connection to diabetes showed up. That means the tide is turning. Finally, diabetes is getting the attention that it needs. The demographic of a college campus has so many distractions that you’d think nobody would care. You guys proved me wrong.”