JDRF Walkathon: Three Years of Team Bisi


For the past three falls since Bisi was diagnosed, we’ve done the JDRF walkathon to raise money to cure, prevent, and treat type 1 diabetes. The first year it was a mad scramble to form our team, since Bisi had been diagnosed only a little more than a month before. But having her friends, new and old, come together to support her as she set out on her own path as someone with diabetes meant an unmeasurable amount to Bisi and to us.  Another bonus, for Bisi, has been the chance to design Team Bisi t-shirts (a girls’ version AND a boys’ version) through the web site CustomInk. Throughout the school year, it’s been fun to see various friends of hers show up on the playground in their colorful Team Bisi shirts. And in the two years since our first walkathon, it’s been interesting for us to note how Bisi’s seriousness of purpose—and her taste—has evolved.

See below the 2012 version, with Bisi’s favorite colors of pink and orange, a blue elephant (her stuffed elephant, Ellie, whom readers may remember from my Safari Report, is also blue), and then a rose, a butterfly, and a heart, just because she liked them. No mention of diabetes—just a bunch of colors and pictures that appealed to a six-year-old girl.

Now the 2013 version, again pink, again with a blue elephant, but with an updated record of her interests and priorities: a red dog, like our new dog Cinnamon at home, a dolphin, a horse, and, on the back, a girl doing gymnastics and some stars just for fun. At the top, in small, hard to read script, she added the message: “Walk to cure type 1 diabetes.”

Skip ahead to the 2014 version, which is simple and on message. (You’ll also note that her favorite color has changed from pink to blue; unfortunately, just about everything she owns is pink, and she’s now impatiently waiting to grow out of it.) No more fun pictures; just a shoe with the words “walk for a cure,” and text in clear, block letters saying  “Team Bisi 2014” and “Walk to Cure Type 1 Diabetes.” This new tone extended to the note Bisi wrote when encouraging people to walk with and support her team:


Dear Family and Friends,

      I have had diabetes for two years. This will be my third walk; I love doing the walk because it’s a time when I get to be with friends and family working together towards a cure for type 1 diabetes. I also like the walk because it feels good to be with other people with diabetes.

     I want to find a cure for T1D so I don’t have to go to the nurse all the time or wear a pump and a constant glucose monitor on my body, and so I could eat whatever I want, whenever I want, without my parents bugging me to take insulin.

     I hope you will walk with me and contribute to JDRF to help cure type 1 diabetes.





Now that Bisi’s 8, now that she’s had diabetes for two years, the JDRF walk isn’t about a chance to put butterflies and blue elephants  on a t-shirt. It’s a chance to get the message across that she wants this disease cured.

Here’s hoping that the money she raised will help spur things along.

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Tom Salshutz
Tom Salshutz
7 years ago

Hi Katie
i read your article when our daughter was diagnosed last summer. i remembered the name Bisi and my daughter Sophia was in her bunk at Clara Barton and mentioned her name.. she really liked her
hopefully she will be back next year

Patrick Rafter
8 years ago

Nice to see the success of Team Bisi. It may interest you to learn that quite a number of people and Diabetes-related nonprofits have run t-shirt fundraisers on Booster.com (which was founded by CustomInk, the company who provided the Team Bisi shirts). See this Booster blog post for more details:

June S.
June S.
8 years ago

Congratulations to Bisi on having completed another JDRF Walk! I was diagnosed a LONG time ago, and have just completed my second one. I always used to contribute, but didn’t seek contributions from others until last year. The only complaint I personally had about the JDRF Walk in my vicinity was that there were only potato chips available, in the way of gluten-free options, for Type I walkers who also suffer from celiac disease. I am hoping that, around the U.S.A., gluten-free companies will be asked to donate their foods for the walkers. It would be a good way for… Read more »

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