One step at a time

One step at a time

by John Jacobsen

With a 10,000 percent growth in the past nine years, the Greater Iowa Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation has become one of the top fundraising chapters in the nation. Part of this growth can be credited to Simpson volunteers.

“It was something that just happened to catch my eye through their advertising,” said volunteer Jason Luedtke of Information Services. Luedtke has taken great strides in encouraging Simpson students to participate in the JDRF annual fundraising walk.

This year’s walk was held Saturday, March 2 in the downtown Des Moines skywalk. Due to last weekend’s snowstorm, however, Simpson’s group did not participate. Their donations were still welcomed.

Last year walkers from Luedtke’s group totaled 71 and he expected 48 walkers this year.

According to Luedtke, last year’s walk consisted of 5,000 to 6,000 walkers in Des Moines with walkers and volunteers raising $1.6 million. The prosperity of the Greater Iowa Chapter has given it the opportunity to become the pilot program chapter for the Ride to Cure Diabetes that takes place in Death Valley, Calif.

“We exceeded the goal in Cedar Rapids and are hoping to do the same in Des Moines, said Maggie Goering, special events coordinator for JDRF, adding that the Midwest’s $4 per capita donations is the highest in the nation. “Iowans and Midwesterners are so generous. The Midwest is just fantastic,” said Goering.

The struggle this year, however, was in keeping up with the large fundraising numbers from previous years. Charitable giving has been down in the months following Sept. 11.

“Charitable giving is down across the board. The participation numbers seen to be right on target though,” Luedtke said. “Last year [2000 graduate] Steve Kelting took a bucket around to the fraternities, dorms and to Pfeiffer and ended up with a bucket full of spare change and raised several hundred dollars for the walk,” said Luedtke.

Luedtke said that in the three years he has headed the Simpson group they have raised over $10,000 for JDRF.

“Because of my uncle having diabetes I have pretty much single-handedly run this event. I would like this to become an Alpha Phi Omega event that they would do every year,” said Luedtke.

Other groups on campus participate in fundraising including Delta Delta Delta women’s fraternity.

“We do individual fundraising along with sending people to walk and support people at the walk,” said philanthropy chair, Mindy Marks.

Goering said that with 146,000 people in Iowa living with diabetes, the foundation is something that everyone can take a personal interest in.

“It is almost epidemic at this time,” Goering said. “If you go into any given crowd and ask if anyone has family with diabetes, half of the hands will raise; then ask if anyone has friends with diabetes, almost every hand will be raised,” said Goering.

Leudtke stressed the importance of such events to raise funds for the JDRF and that volunteers are the people who really make it happen.

“The JDRF is one of the most well respected organizations with about 90 percent of funds going straight to research,” said Luedtke.

Leudtke sees the annual walk as an opportunity for people to make a concrete impact on the organization and its cause.

“I don’t have any reason why Simpson students should care. It’s just part of humanity and helping the people where you live.”