Tags Posts tagged with "Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation"

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

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Michael Ehrlich, left, is walking more than 100 miles to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. His daughter Rachael, right, was diagnosed with the condition in 2016. Photo from Michael Ehrlich

Last Friday, a South Setauket resident started walking, heading east on Route 347 with the hopes of possibly making it to Riverhead. He wasn’t worried about the distance, as the long journey wasn’t his first.

“You really have to retool how you fundraise, and I was like, ‘You know what, it’s my calling. I need to go on another walk.’”

— Michael Ehrlich

Michael Ehrlich, 49, is in training to walk 107 miles Columbus Day weekend with the goal of raising $50,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The nonprofit funds Type 1 diabetes research, provides community services to T1D patients and advocates for them. Ehrlich will walk from the Manhattan side of the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge to Orient Point beginning Saturday, Oct. 10. He estimates that it will take roughly 50 hours.

The T1D battle is a personal one for him, as his 16-year-old daughter Rachael was diagnosed with the condition in 2016. At first his family had to wait for the insurance company to approve a much-needed insulin pump for her, and a couple of years ago she was finally able to get it. With the pump and continuous glucose monitoring, the Ward Melville High School student is doing well.

Ehrlich has raised money for the foundation before by walking more than 100 miles. In 2017, the father, who was featured in a TBR News Media article for his effort, garnered nearly $35,000 by walking from Manhattan’s Times Square to Montauk Point. He had hoped to participate in other events to raise money for JDRF, and in 2018 walked from his house to Manhattan and was training to run in the New York City Marathon to represent JDRF, but an ankle injury acted up. Despite the injury, he raised an additional $32,000 with smaller events

The injury is one he has suffered with on and off since his 2017 walk, but he knew it was important to get back out there walking to raise money for the foundation.

“It must be really hard to fundraise as a nonprofit when they can’t have their balls and charity events,” he said. “You really have to retool how you fundraise, and I was like, ‘You know what, it’s my calling. I need to go on another walk.’”

To deal with his injury he wears Hoka sneakers, which he said aren’t the most attractive but provide good support, and he utilizes Chi walking when his foot hurts. He learned the method, which uses the core principles of T’ai Chi, before his 2017 walk.

“It’s not the most intuitive walking style but it’s definitely the most pain-free way to do it,” he said. “It’s just having the discipline because you do have to think about a whole bunch of things at the same time.”

To get ready for the trek, Ehrlich has been walking for hours at a time, sometimes late at night or in the early morning hours which will prepare him for walking overnight. When he’s done with his practice walks, he’ll either call his wife to pick him up, or if it’s late, he’ll use Uber to get home.

During his first fundraising walk in 2017, Ehrlich said he chose the South Shore because it had less of an elevation increase than the North Shore. But this time, he wanted to travel through places such as the Three VIllage area.

“It’s not like you’re hiking a mountain, but there are a lot of hills,” he said

Another change from his 2017 walk is that Ehrlich won’t be carrying a backpack with several essentials. He said he plans on having a waist belt with water, an energy bar and batteries. To eat and drink along the way he’ll rely on friends and anyone who hears about his journey. A couple of friends have also offered to walk part of the distance with him.

“Mike is a passionate guy that loves his family, community and the outdoors.”

— Carmine Inserra

Carmine Inserra said he hopes to join Ehrlich on part of the walk if his schedule allows. The two belong to the Facebook group Three Village Dads and recently the both of them completed the virtual Michael P. Murphy Run Around the Lake Half Marathon.

“Mike is a passionate guy that loves his family, community and the outdoors,” Inserra said. “This walk to Orient and his previous one to Montauk just shows how committed he is to them and juvenile Type 1 diabetes.”

Inserra added that Ehrlich has raised awareness that diabetes isn’t about poor dietary habits and there is a need for more research.

He has raised nearly $35,000 already, he said, from 291 donors toward this year’s $50,000 goal. The father said many have donated through his professional network in the mortgage industry, as well as previous donors and members of the Three Village Dads Facebook group, which he belongs to.

“Before the walk, during the walk or after the walk, I really want to get that $50,000,” he said. “I think I will. People are pretty generous.”

Maureen Fitzgerald, executive director of JDRF’s Greater New York City chapter, said the foundation was started 50 years ago by volunteers who wanted to see a world without T1D for their children. She said Ehrlich is one of the people who carries on that vision and in a “highly unique” way.

“When Michael walked from Times Square to Montauk in 2017 to bring attention to JDRF and to the daily struggle that his daughter Rachael faces as she manages her Type 1 diabetes, we marveled — not only at his stamina, but at his clear love for his daughter and his willingness to raise awareness and funds, whatever it took,” Fitzgerald said. “Today, as Michael prepares to embark on this journey for a second time, our JDRF team marvels all over again — at his energy, his enthusiasm, his love for Rachael, and his power to teach many about what the 1.6 million Americans living with T1D face every day.”

For more info on the fundraiser and Ehrlich arrival times for the walk visit his Facebook page, Manhattan2Montauk.

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Michael Ehrlich decided to embark on a 125-mile walk to raise funds for juvenile diabetes research after his daughter Rachael was diagnosed with the condition. Photo from Michael Ehrlich

By Rita J. Egan

Walking is more than a form of exercise for one South Setauket father; it’s one step closer toward his mission to raise awareness of Type 1 diabetes as well as raise funds to find a cure.

Michael Ehrlich will begin a 125-mile walk Oct. 16 from Times Square in Manhattan, where he works, to Montauk. His hope is to raise $25,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

The 46-year-old took on the mission after his daughter Rachael, 13, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, also called juvenile diabetes, last year. It was during a trip to Hershey Park in Pennsylvania when the R.C. Murphy Junior High School, Stony Brook, student became ill and fainted in a hotel lobby. When the family returned home, Ehrlich’s wife, Leanne, took Rachael to a doctor who diagnosed her with the life-threatening condition.

Ehrlich said the walk will take him approximately two to three days. It’s an adventure he will undertake with sporadic 20-minute rest periods and without replenishing his supplies. He will carry a hydration pack that holds the equivalent of five bottles of water and bring with him a head lamp, extra socks, a windbreaker, carb-heavy protein bars and sweets. Ehrlich will also be equipped with a GoPro camera to record his journey.

Rachael and her mother support his efforts and the preparation, which has included overnight walks, involved for the trip. 

“I’m really proud of him, because I see first of all the commitment to do it and train and walk overnight,” his wife said. “Sometimes, he would get home at 10 a.m. and get into bed because of walking all night.”

Ehrlich demonstrates the GoPro camera that will record his journey that will start Oct. 16. Photo from Michael Ehrlich

He has been preparing for Oct. 16 by increasing the miles he walks with each trip. The last few weeks, Ehrlich has been walking approximately 40 miles or more once a week. He has traveled on foot from his home to Wildwood State Park in Wading River, and after one of his daughter’s soccer games, from East Meadow to South Setauket. He has also walked from Rocky Point to West Hampton along the Paumanok Path, and one day after work, he walked to Floral Park in Queens.

Ehrlich said he has always enjoyed camping and hiking. His 86-year-old father, Richie, still walks a few miles a day.

“It must be in my genes,” Ehrlich said. 

The idea came to him one day while sitting on the train from Manhattan. Ehrlich said he knew he wanted to raise money for finding a cure for juvenile diabetes and realized it needed to be a fundraiser that would be original to capture people’s attention. He saw the Manhattan skyline and that’s where it hit him to walk from the city to the end of Long Island.

He has done more than walking to prepare for his campaign. After initial trips where his feet would hurt, Ehrlich began researching the proper way to walk. He discovered chi walking, which has helped reduce his foot pain.

He planned out his trip with Google Maps for the best possible route. Ehrlich said walking along the South Shore seems to be the best way because the roads are less hilly and winding. He will travel from Manhattan to Long Island by crossing over the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge. He is looking forward to seeing the diverse neighborhoods of Queens before walking through the South Shore’s villages.

“I’m really proud of him, because I see first of all the commitment to do it and train and walk overnight.”

Leanne Ehrlich

Ehrlich has set up the Facebook page, Manhattan2Montauk, that currently has more than 100 followers to promote his walk. He is already at $15,000 toward his $25,000 fundraising goal. He said many believe that Type 1 diabetes is the result of a child not eating well or the parents feeding them sugary food, which is not true. He said the disease is genetic; however, researchers are not certain what triggers it in some individuals and not others.

“A lot of people confuse Type 1 and Type 2, and they are actually completely different,” Ehrlich said. “They shouldn’t even be called the same thing.”

He also wants others to know the obstacles those suffering from diabetes go through. The Ehrlich family is waiting for their health care insurance to approve an insulin pump that will be beneficial for their daughter. Ehrlich said his daughter regularly asks him if they received approval yet. As a father, he hopes his fundraiser will give her hope that one day a cure will be found and she won’t have to worry about things such as an insurance company’s approval for a medical device.

“They’re close to finding a cure,” Ehrlich said. “It’s going to happen in the next 10 or 15 years. Maybe the money we raise will help find a cure.”

Jason Rice, director of development with JDRF, said representatives from the foundation will join Ehrlich for the first few miles and the organization fully supports him. Rice said while others have walked a few miles to raise money, this is the longest walk he remembers being done.

“This is truly a special event to take on this walk across Long Island,” Rice said.

Updates on his journey will be posted on the Manhattan2Montauk Facebook page.  Ehrlich said he encourages others to join him for the first few miles of his Oct. 16 walk, which will begin at 9 a.m. at 3 Times Square in Manhattan.

The Mount Sinai MIddle School Community Service and Outreach Club lends a helping hand by becoming actively engaged in the community for local and national charities and organizations. Photo from Lindsey Ferraro

Raising thousands of dollars for North Shore-based and national organizations and bringing smiles to those in need of cheer is no small feat. But fifth- through eighth-graders at Mount Sinai Middle School are making a habit of it.

Lindsey Ferraro, a co-advisor for the school’s Community Outreach and Service clubs for the last three years, said students learn compassion and empathy.

“It amazes me more so every year how dedicated our club members and the school community are to bettering the world,” she said. “Our students have gone above and beyond to help out the community.”

The Mount Sinai Community Service and Outreach Club sings holiday carols at a local nursing home. Photo from Lindsey Ferraro
The Mount Sinai Community Service and Outreach Club sings holiday carols at a local nursing home. Photo from Lindsey Ferraro

The club adopted a family this past holiday season, created cards for soldiers, visited the Woodhaven nursing home in Port Jefferson Station to sing holiday carols, held a clothing drive for the homeless and raised over $1,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

“You know you’re helping out someone much less fortunate than you, and it feels really good,” eighth-grader Jake Ritchie said. “It feels really good to know that I make a statement and take a stand in my community to help out.”

Ritchie, who has been a member of the club since he was in fifth grade, said the club is also collecting books for a Stony Brook book drive and helping Girl Scouts receive a bronze award. He said even his classmates lend a hand.

“They have been helping out,” he said, “We make speeches in front of our classes to encourage kids to help out. It’s a lot of fun.”

Mount Sinai Middle School Principal Peter Pramataris said he also sees students outside the club donating to the club’s causes.

“It’s always great to see the school building come together as a whole,” he said. “I reside in the district, too, and whenever there’s a family with some hardship, a loss or a health issue, the community always steps up to help each other. It’s a testament to the families we have in our community and the value system that they have from home and that we reinforce at the school. These students take their own time, and they do it unselfishly. I’m proud to be their principal.”

The club has also raised more than $2,000 in two weeks for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Pennies for Patients fund, with a week of fundraising left to go. Next, the school will be working on its Light It up Blue campaign, where members of the club will sell puzzle pieces in light of Autism Awareness Month for Autism Speaks.

The Mount Sinai Community Service and Outreach Club wraps presents raised for and donated to local families. Photo from Lindsey Ferraro
The Mount Sinai Community Service and Outreach Club wraps presents raised for and donated to local families. Photo from Lindsey Ferraro

Nicole Kotarski, who has been a co-adviser for five years, said the club fosters independence and creativity.

“We’ve had several students bring us ideas if they like a particular organization, and we tell them to figure out how to make it happen,” she said, adding that she asks students to organize contact information, ideas for fundraisers and how to make the school aware of them. “The goal of our club is to make a difference in others’ lives. These students are definitely the most driven students. They’re the ones that make the effort to become actively engaged in the community.”

Ferraro and Kotarski agreed that the students are doing an amazing job, and they’re proud of the student’s hard work and effort.

“They really do care and they’re learning — they’re not in it for anything else,” Ferraro said. “They do such a good job raising awareness throughout the school … and really making, especially the people around the holidays, feel loved and cared for.”

That’s what makes being a part of the club so special for fifth-grader Matthew Stancampiano.

“I like doing this because it helps me help the less fortunate people in our community,” he said. “We can accomplish bigger things in a group. It makes me feel happy that I am able to help other people.”