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‘In For a Penny’ fundraiser to raise awareness of juvenile diabetes

Penny Lane was approaching her sixth birthday when she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and since that day, she and her family have made it their mission to help other children facing the same challenge.

Penny Lane was approaching her sixth birthday when she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and since that day, she and her family have made it their mission to help other children facing the same challenge. It’s called the “In For a Penny” fundraiser to raise funds for JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) of Western New York. The fundraiser coincides with the JDRF walk, which will be held 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 27 at the Lewiston Stone House.

“We wanted to do something to help her and kids like her have a chance to live more normal lives,” said Paul Lane, Penny’s dad. “There are worse things that can happen to a child and a family, but Type 1 requires constant monitoring of blood sugar levels (including in the middle of the night), special considerations at school and at social events (like eating cake at a friend’s birthday party), frequent insulin injections and a little bit of a loss of childhood in general.”

Lane says Penny, 9, always has to have a bag with diabetic supplies on hand and can’t even take a piece of candy without thinking twice. She does very well in school, but does have to miss more days than most kids between dealing with complications (which can leave her weak and irritable) and having to go for more frequent check-ups with diabetes doctors.

Type 1 diabetes is genetic and is not caused by a lack of care for oneself (that’s Type 2). Those who have it simply have it surface one day. The person’s immune system destroys cells in the pancreas that make insulin, leaving the person unable to do so and reliant upon injections. Penny has to take insulin based on a medically determined ratio depending on how many carbohydrates she eats. He says while it’s not always easy, he and is family do their best to give Penny the simplest life possible.

“We’ve adjusted and she handles it as well as can be expected. There’s a big balancing act to maneuver, as you have to make sure blood sugar isn’t too low but not too high. Routine colds, flus and other illnesses are also complicated by diabetes, as they can trigger complications that land children in the hospital due to their levels going too off-kilter,” he said.

So how does the “In For a Penny” fundraiser help? Well, Penny and her family walk in the JDRF annual walk under the name In For a Penny. Together they’ve raised more than $10,000 over their first three years. The event is at the Lewiston Stone House on Center Street in Lewiston, which has been nice enough to donate the facility every year. They also hold a basket raffle and celebrity bartending event. Those slated to appear this year include Mike Schopp from WGR 550 AM, Angela Christoforos from WIVB, Jerry Sullivan from the Buffalo News and Jeffrey Showers, principal of Cataract Elementary School (where Penny and her brother, 8-year-old Rigby) go to school. Live music this year will be courtesy of Back to the Barstools.

All money raised goes right to JDRF. They help fund research for a cure for Type 1. Insulin injections and pumps that are used now make things livable for patients with Type 1 but are not cures. In For a Penny has routinely been among the top 15 or so fundraisers for the local JDRF chapter (based in Amherst) and hope to keep doing more so that Penny and other like her may, in their lifetimes, have a cure.

“She can manage with the disease – Halle Berry, Bret Michaels and Nick Jonas are notable people who have it – but going forward she will have to think twice with everything from college dorm food and parties (beer has carbohydrates, which will require insulin) to any activities (physical exertion can skew blood sugar levels) and having a family,” said Lane.

For more information on the In For a Penny fundraiser, visit Twitter: @InForAPennyJDRF or You may also contact Nicole Lane at 716-622-0011 for more information.

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