Matthew Butler was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) when he was in first grade. He became a JDRF volunteer just weeks afterwards, participating in his first JDRF Walk.
He is now a senior at William Byrd High School and will be walking for his final time with his original “Matthew’s Marchers” team. The team is captained by his grandmother, Mary Angell, and includes his parents, Mary and Brian Butler, his sister, Kimber, other family members, and friends who support the cause.
In the past 10 years, he has raised over $42,000 for diabetes research. He has set a goal this year to raise $8,000 more to end up this stage of his participation with a total of $50,000 collected over those years.
The Greater Blue Ridge Walk to Cure Diabetes is scheduled for September 24, beginning at Elmwood Park at 2 p.m. with check-in at noon. Participants may walk either a one-mile or three-mile course and raise money from donations.
Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease that strikes children and adults suddenly. It has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle; it is a life-threatening disease if left untreated and stressful to manage. There is nothing you can do to prevent T1D and there is presently no cure.
With T1D, a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin— a hormone essential to turning food into energy. If you have T1D, you must constantly monitor your blood-sugar level, inject or infuse insulin through a pump, and carefully balance these insulin doses with your eating and activity. Living with T1D means there are no days off.
The JDRF says, “Currently, managing T1D is a never-ending, difficult chore because the body often defies even the most vigilant efforts to keep blood sugar at normal levels. As a result, even sleeping can be anxiety-filled for people with T1D, because that’s often when dangerous low-blood-sugar episodes occur. Simply enjoying a slice of pizza can require significant insulin-dose planning to avoid high blood sugar and the resulting risks of serious diabetic complications.”
But there is hope– Butler hopes that people will “donate to a good cause that affects a lot of people.” Scientists funded by JDRF dollars are making incredible progress in development of an artificial pancreas.
Artificial pancreas systems will automate blood-sugar management, dramatically reducing T1D-related risks and improving lives of people who have the disease. These systems will monitor glucose levels around the clock and automatically provide the right amount of insulin, and potentially other blood-sugar stabilizing hormones, at the right time. AP systems are on the road to becoming the most revolutionary advance in diabetes care since the discovery of insulin. JDRF plans to “Turn Type One into Type None.”
Butler has been an enthusiastic volunteer for JDRF aside from the annual walks. As an eighth grader, he was chosen to be a member of the JDRF Children’s Congress who met with members of the United States Congress in Washington, D.C., to “remind Congress and the Administration of the critical need to find better treatments and a cure for Type 1 Diabetes (T1D).”
“I want to tell my Congressmen that people with T1D are real people, not just a statistic on a piece of paper,” said Butler at the time. “We all want to have normal lives and not live under the shadow of diabetes. We need to find a cure.”
Matthew has mentored other children diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes over the years since he was diagnosed.
In high school at William Byrd, Butler has been involved in cross country, indoor and outdoor rack, and started the Camera Club there. He is employed at Famous Anthony’s and this past summer worked full-time for the Blue Ridge Parkway Youth Conservation Corps.
Charlotte Kidd, executive director of the Greater Blue Ridge JDRF, shared these comments about Matthew and his team.
“Matthew and his team ‘Matthew’s Marchers”’ have been one of our staunchest family walk teams over the past 10 plus years,” said Kidd. “They have and continue to make a difference by asking family and friends to support their walk team and JDRF. The progress we are seeing in better treatments and ultimately a cure for T1D is made possible by families like Matthew’s.”
Donations to help Butler reach his goal of $8,000 this year may be sent to “Matthew’s Marchers,” Richard Angell, P.O. Box 1129, Vinton, 24179. Checks should be made to JDRF with “Matthew’s Marchers” on the memo line. Donations are accepted until October 20.