I had the honor this past weekend of photographing the annual Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Gala. As the night began, I photographed all the guests as they came into the Wilmington Convention Center. There were so many friendly faces and I could sense something very warm and loving within the center.
As the evening progressed, I met up with the "ambassadors" for the night...kids and their families living with Juvenile Diabetes Type 1. They were in attendance as volunteers to help present auction items. But there was so much more to their few minutes of walking out into the Gala. They spent the entire evening in a room filled with snacks, activities AND each other...they shared a bond through the disease that so seriously impacts each of their lives. They showed me their "stuff"...supplies they must have with them at all times. I was in awe of the things these moms and kids and teens must have with them both at home and out.
I thought about what I, and other mom friends have in our bags as we venture out with our children; items ranging from pacifiers to gum to electronic devices. For myself and many other moms out there, having these items on oneself can mean the difference between a quiet visit to the grocery store or full on meltdowns in the canned goods aisle!
As the kids and their families in the 'ambassador' room proudly showed me their 'stuff', I was so impacted by the thought that the things they needed in their bags when they go to the grocery store, church, or just out to play meant so much more; if forgotten, there would be no meltdowns or temper tantrums...there would be calls to 911 if those forgotten items came to be needed. There are really no words for the wave of emotion that came over me as I tried to listen to each of them describe their specific supplies and the lifestyles they lead that effected the types of devices they use to get their insulin.
Most amazing of all was the fact that the use of insulin pumps and further advances in treating and curing this disease was made possible by the funds raised through The JDRF. And the events held throughout each year by JDRF chapters across the country are attended by those living with the disease, those with loved ones effected or just those who want to give. It is a true community effort and this is the reason for the warm, loving environment I could sense through the evening.
Thank you Coastal Carolina JDRF for entrusting me to cover this wonderful evening for you and to all the friendly faces I photographed! It was a moving night.
You can watch a recap of the evening below.
A full gallery of photos from the night is here.