Sophomore Raises Awareness to “Dia-beat” Type One Diabetes

Isabelle Keever, Staff Writer

Rushing around and packing over 50 people into cars, sophomore Courtney Smith anxiously awaits the special day still to come amid the early morning chaos.

Smith was diagnosed with type one diabetes at 9 years old, and participated in her seventh Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) walk on October 28th, and her team was bigger than ever.

“We had a total of more than 70 people,” Smith said.

Leading up to the annual walk, Smith has a series of fundraisers including her own movie night, where anyone can come and enjoy a film and snacks. She is also selling her own designed t-shirts, all the proceeds going towards JDRF.

“I have definitely reached my goals for this year,” Smith said.

Not only did she meet her financial goal for the walk, but Smith has successfully gotten more people to attend and better understand type one diabetes.

“It’s not just raising money,” Smith said. “It’s also getting people to the walk and showing them how many others have diabetes.”

For the past 4 years, Smith helped to design her fundraiser shirt, where she picks out colors and images she wants displayed.

“Each year we have the same company design them,” Smith said. “TMB Screen Printing and Embroidery.”

As her team grew and more people joined, Smith found it increasingly difficult to reach out to others and get them involved. This is when the idea for her instagram account, “cureforcourtney”, came to light.

“I wanted a platform I could share information on that people could specifically follow,” Smith said. “This way they expected to see posts about diabetes.”

Currently, the account has over 400 followers in just over a year. It’s updated with all of her latest news, along with the catchy slogan “Let’s Dia-beat This”. Smith has seen it grow before her eyes, far past what she expected.

“I can use social media in such a positive aspect,” Smith said. “Which is one of the things I really love doing.”

The most hectic time of planning is the week before the walk. Everyday she had people come over to pick up t-shirts, along with major preparation for the next Saturday. This led to a lot of late nights, where she didn’t get to go to bed until 2 am.

“We stayed up until 3 am the night before the walk,” Smith said. “I had to wake up at 5 o’clock.”

To organize all of her events by herself would be so challenging, which is why Smith’s closest friends, dubbed “the blue dot crew”, take charge and help with the behind the scenes. Whether they make her signs for movie night, or help pass out t-shirts, they are a big part running the show.

“They help so much,” Smith said. “I could never repay them for everything they’ve done.”

One blue dot crew member, sophomore Amanda Molnar, has been helping her since the beginning. She’s helped plan with her for the past 4 years, and has seen the impact left on Courtney.

“What prompted me to be more involved in helping JDRF and Cure for Courtney was to see how happy it made Courtney feel,” Molnar said. “I wanted to see how much money we could raise working together.”

In addition to her friends, Smith’s family has been a major support system too. Her father, Todd Smith, admires his daughter’s growth since diagnosis and walking with JDRF.

“I’m extremely proud of how she’s brought more attention to the cause and trying to find a cure for type one diabetes,” T. Smith said.

He enjoys watching everyone unite as a team and be a part of something so special.

“Seeing friends and family come together for only a few hours on a Saturday morning not only supporting Courtney, but supporting trying to find a cure, is a cool thing to be a part of,” T. Smith said.  

Despite the hardships she comes across and the inevitable bad days concerning her diagnosis, Smith has stayed optimistic.

“It’s definitely been a positive change in my life,” Smith said. “I’ve been able to meet so many new people and become so educated about diabetes.”

In the future, she wishes to expand her group further and even hold spring events to help raise money. After graduating, she wants to become a part of the JDRF walk staff, and plan for the walk as a whole.

“I want to have a leadership role within the organization,” Smith said. “To help run the walk for the younger diabetics.”