Middle School Students Support JDRF

Keira Mann ’22 has put more than a few miles on her bike. The freshman advocate frequently trains for an annual race put on by JDRF, a nonprofit overseeing the fight against type 1 diabetes (T1D), a disease which can present itself in both adults and children. It is also an organization the Mann family is passionate about helping.

Last month, Keira and her family joined over 450 riders in Saratoga Springs, NY - one of six race locations this year - to ride in a 100 mile course. This was her second time participating in one of the annual rides, and her first time completing a Metric Century (100 km, or roughly 62 miles) in the hilliest terrain she has encountered to date. She came just shy of that distance last year. Her brother, Logan Mann ’23, was eligible to ride in this year’s race. However, after training for months, he suffered an injury that prohibited him from riding. Not to be deterred from showing his support for his family and the cause, Logan pitched in as a volunteer and joined his parents and sister at the finish line.

As a family, their goal was to raise $8k for the organization. The money from the race supports research to find a cure for T1D. Each of the six race locations aims to raise $2 million. So far, the Saratoga Springs Ride to Cure Diabetes has raised over $1.5 million. Equally impressive, the Manns have surpassed their goal and are continuing to count the funds raised.   

To assist in their quest to raise money for JDRF, Keira and Logan’s Middle School peers and faculty held a chapel and dress-down day. While the dress-down day was a huge success, raising $422 (all of which is going strictly to research) to contribute to their goal, the takeaway from chapel was even greater.

“Keira approached me in June with the request that we hold a chapel on JDRF,” said Trish Hopkins, assistant director of the Middle School. “She orchestrated the chapel and dress-down day, and she arranged the guest speaker.”

That guest speaker was Savannah Bolin, development director for the Hampton Roads Chapter of JDRF. She focused her chapel on raising awareness of TD1 in a way that spurred students' ability to empathize. The speech gave insight into the why behind the dress-down day and JDRF’s support of a cure for the disease. Her talk was so well received, many parents reached out to the Middle School office to ask if chapel was open to parents.

“Savannah has clearly spoken to students before,” Hopkins said. “The fact that I had so many parents reach out afterwards was a clear indicator that the students were communicating with their communities.”

Perhaps even more remarkable, however, was what Hopkins witnessed immediately following the presentation. As everyone filed out of Price Auditorium to return to their classes, one Middle School student decided to hang back. He approached the speaker with a heart full of gratitude, thanking her for sharing information about TD1 with his peers. As someone with TD1, he was thankful that they would now be able to appreciate who he is as a person, and not someone defined by the disease.