Students and faculty at SG are inviting the community to join them at the Dragon Dash 5K Fun Run with Color on April 22 to benefit the pediatric unit at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston.
Senior Associate Director of Admissions Julia Sabourin brought the idea to campus as a way to support her two daughters, Sarah and Emma, who both were diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Sarah, a seventh grader at Saint Philomena School in Portsmouth, was diagnosed two years ago while in fifth grade and Emma, a fourth grader also at Saint Philomena School, was diagnosed four years ago in first grade. Julia’s oldest daughter, Katie Sabourin ’21, is also helping out with the event to support her sisters.
“I’ve never been more paralyzed as when my kids got diagnosed with this,” said Julia. “The two groups that got me through the initial diagnosis [were] St. George’s and Joslin.”
Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease that develops when the pancreas stops producing insulin, the hormone that controls blood-sugar levels, and requires constant management with insulin — either with injections or an insulin pump.
The Dragon Dash will be held at SG on Sunday, April 22, at 10 a.m. and is open to all ages. Participants will be showered with colored powder along the route and may either run or walk the 5K course.
Sophie Coolidge ‘18 and Director of Student Activities Mary O’Connor previously held a 5K Fun Run with Color last year to raise money for the St. George’s Fund and are helping out with this year’s Dragon Dash as well.
“It was the heart and soul of Sophie and Mary who brought the whole suggestion of doing the Color Run Dash,” Julia said. “This would never have come to fruition if they had not done this last year and had the energy going.”
Coolidge first saw color runs on Instagram and thought they looked fun, so she pitched the idea to the Community Outreach Club as a new way to raise money for causes on campus, she said.
“It's a great and unique opportunity to raise money for such an incredible cause and it really seems like a win-win to me,” said Coolidge. “We get to have fun while supporting others in the process and I think this really encourages people to sign up and get psyched for it.”
“This is an excellent opportunity for our students to carry out our school mission ‘that their lives will be ones of constructive service,’” O’Connor said. “By signing up for the Color Fun Run to run, walk, or volunteer, the St. George's community has the chance to help pediatric diabetes research, be truly grateful for their good health, and to have fun.”
Julia said it’s important to raise awareness and educate the community about autoimmune diseases and allergies, so people are more prepared to act in the event of an emergency.
“They are going to have down days and I need to know that there are people around them who will know how to pick them up, how to support them medically as well as emotionally,” Julia said of her daughters. “Things are changing daily. Every time we go up to Joslin, there’s something new that they’re educating us on and I want to make sure that I’m educating the people that are around my children and any other children who come through with an allergy or an autoimmune disease.”
Julia and Katie will both be participating in the run and Sarah and Emma will help at water stations.
“I’m just excited to have all of our family and friends come to support us,” Sarah said.
“It’s for a good cause,” said Katie, with Emma agreeing. “We’re raising money for Joslin to help.”
The goal of the Dragon Dash event is to raise as much money and awareness for the Joslin Diabetes Center as possible.
“As the parent of two kids with an autoimmune disease, you feel helpless because it’s out of your control. There’s nothing you can do to make it all better,” said Julia. “The only way that I feel like I have some control over what’s going on in their lives right now is by trying to raise funds to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes.”
Julia described Joslin as a “second home” for her daughters.
“I can’t say enough about Joslin because when you have one child who has Type 1 diabetes, it’s overwhelming, and then you have another child who gets diagnosed with it,” said Julia. “Going up there, they became my lifeline. I don’t know what I honestly would have done without Joslin.”
“They’ve been such a big help for our family,” Katie said. “They’ve really helped us along with the whole process.”
“They always fill your mind with happy thoughts that one day there will be a cure,” added Emma.
Julia said she wants to give Sarah and Emma a mantra of “I can do this” when it comes to their disease.
“I want them to live as normal a life as possible, but also recognize that they are a little different, they are a little special,” Julia said. “But they’re my warrior queens.”
For more information or to register for the Dragon Dash 5K Fun Run with Color, click here.