Jared Berrns was just 30 years old when complications from Type I diabetes took him away from his family and friends.
Following their loss, Jared’s cousins, aunts and uncles, wanted to do something to honour his memory. One of the cousins, Ashley Lipp, suggested a diabetes run/walk fundraiser.
Having never done such an event, the group turned to the Canadian Diabetes Association, specifically Cara Humphrey, Saskatchewan Team Diabetes coordinator and Lyndon Smith, Saskatchewan area manager for Running Room Canada. They met in January to iron out the details.
“It was a pretty emotional meeting for us, but also really exciting to speak to them and realize that this would happen,” said Donna Berrns, one of Jared’s aunts. “They each offered their knowledge and support to us throughout our planning stages. Our intent was to raise funds and awareness about diabetes in general, and specifically within our own community.”
In 2012 nearly two million Canadians had diagnosed diabetes. In Donna’s family alone there are three, including her father and two nieces.
Under the management of Marla Bilokreli, Jared’s cousin who the family appointed as event director, the inaugural Jared’s Run came together July 13 and raised more than $8,000 (donations were still coming in as of press time).
“So many families are affected by this disease and we were touched by the stories we heard from participants, sponsors, spectators, and volunteers who joined us on July 13th,” Donna said. “Imagine a world where no one has to be controlled by a disease like that.”
The event took place at Burgis Beach where the Berrns family has spent many years at the beaches of Good Spirit Lake, growing up nearby.
“The community was so supportive as well,” Donna said. “some of the residents stood in their yards cheering on the participants as they passed by, banging pots, clapping, watching and smiling.”
Following the run/walk the family hosted a barbecue luncheon at the Burgis Beach community hall.
All the money will stay in Saskatchewan and much of it will be used for a summer camp for kids with diabetes who are learning how to live with the disease.
“What a wonderful tribute to Jared’s memory, and that so many people came out in fellowship and supported this is just amazing,” Donna said. “The success of this event can be awarded to Jared’s extended family, as well as the major sponsors who came on board to support us, Maple Farm Equipment, Farmworld, Source Embroidery, Running Room Canada and, of course, Canadian Diabetes Association, plus all the other community businesses and individuals who donated.
“All in all, I wish I could express the emotions and the atmosphere that day. I cried all the way home when the day was done; I think we all did. We had a private balloon release the next day and there was, without a doubt, no question that Jared was with us that weekend.
The family has decided to make Jared’s Run an annual event. The 2014 edition is scheduled for July 12.