Park basketball: Dribbling down diabetesWith a number of their athletes suffering from diabetes, the Park boys and girls basketball programs decided to do something about it.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, South Washington County Bulletin
With a number of their athletes suffering from diabetes, the Park boys and girls basketball programs decided to do something about it.
The Park basketball programs are holding a number of fundraisers and events throughout February to help combat diabetes.
Tracie Fischer, a Park booster club member, has two sons – Kaleb and Dillon Fischer – who have diabetes.
“Diabetes is a family disease. Everyone helps and feels what they are going through,” Tracie Fischer said. “We want to not only raise money for research to find a cure, but we want to put this out there so the kids know they have support. The athletes have to deal with it every day.”
As part of the Park Basketball Dribble Down Diabetes fundraiser, Wolfpack players gathered donations for a Free-throw-a-thon, which will take place from 10:15 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Feb. 4. Also, players and volunteers will sell JDRF shoes and bracelets at school and during Park boys and girls home games throughout the month of February. In addition, a number of Park players, fans and parents will take part in the JDRF walk at the Mall of America on Feb. 25.
Kaleb Fischer, a freshman at Park, was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 5 and has dealt with the disease with finger pricks and regulating his blood sugar.
“It’s made me stronger as a person I think. It’s another responsibility that I have to deal with,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun to be able to raise a lot of money for this. It’s a really good thing. It means a ton to have my team and my friends support me.”
Jenna Joswiak, a senior at Park and a starter and team captain of the Wolfpack girls team, has been diabetic for 10 years. She is also a cousin of Kaleb and Dillon Fischer.
She said having diabetes means a lot of work.
“There’s no perfect thing to make it better,” Joswiak said. “You’re constantly guessing to get yourself where you need to be. It’s not always easy with basketball, but you just have to get through it.”
Joswiak has also been a top player for the Park volleyball team. She said dealing with diabetes means taking care of yourself.
“You just have to make sure you do what’s best for you first,” she said. “You can’t help your team unless you’re healthy and taking care of yourself, then you can help your team.”
Joswiak was a counselor this past summer at a camp for kids with diabetes – Camp St. Croix.
“That was a big inspiration to me,” she said. “Watching the little kids handle it, made you want to step up and do it too.”
A good friend of Joswiak’s – Park freshman Annie Diamond was diagnosed with diabetes in third grade. Diamond also plays soccer for Park.
“At some points it has been hard, but I’ve gotten used to it,” Diamond said. “People have been really supportive of me. My parents and friends have been there and have helped me. My friends ask me questions about it, but don’t see it as a big thing. They just help me out. I feel like I can do anything. I don’t let it get in my way.”
Diamond said it made her feel good to have the Park basketball programs raising money for a cause that has had a big effect on her.
“It means a lot to me, because I’ve always wanted to raise money for this cause, but I haven’t followed through with it,” she said.
Joswiak said the support means a lot to her.
“People think that insulin is a cure, but it really isn’t. We’re still waiting for a cure,” Joswiak said. “I know there have been a lot of medical advances and there’s definitely hope. It’s really nice to see everyone being really supportive and to know there are people who care.”
Park Dribble Down Diabetes events
Jan. 27 – Feb. 3: Players gather donations for Dribble Down Diabetes Fundraiser.
Feb. 4: Free-throw-a-thon: Each player involved shoots 100 free throws in a competition between the Park boys and girls programs to see how much money each team can raise to help cure diabetes.
Feb. 6-10: Players will be selling JDRF shoes and bracelets during the lunch hour. All proceeds go toward JDRF.
Feb. 10: All pledge money will be gathered by coaches.
Feb. 14 and 17 and Feb. 21 and 24: Volunteers will be selling JDRF shoes, bracelets and T-shirts during the Park boys and girls home games. All proceeds go toward JDRF.
Feb. 17 and Feb. 21: Prior to the boys and girls home varsity games, the total amount of money raised by the Park basketball program will be announced. Also, individuals who raised the most money and hit the most free throws will be recognized.
Feb. 25: JDRF Walk: Park players, fans and parents will take part in the JDRF walk at the Mall of America. The event starts at 8 a.m.