Kristy Andries often says her entire family was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on August 25, 2001. That was the day she learned her 17-year-old son, Bradley, had the disease.
“It is a date you never forget,” she says. “Suddenly, we were learning about carb counting and ratios, how to treat low or high blood sugars “and at least 100 other things.”
Faced with this new world of strange medical terms, tests and tools, Kristy took a typical mom approach: “I wanted to ‘fix’ the situation, and if I could not do it, then I knew I would find someone who would.” As a business owner, she also wanted to draw upon the resources of an organization that operated efficiently and effectively. What she found was JDRF, the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes research.
Kristy, her husband, Kenneth, and family members began fundraising and volunteering at events for JDRF, formerly the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. One of the family’s earliest projects was the Walk to Cure Diabetes. “What we saw that day was the tremendous amount of support that families receive by embracing each other, knowing they are not alone in this battle,” she says.
Within a year, Kristy found herself serving on the Louisiana JDRF chapter’s board of directors. Her involvement has intensified in the decade since. The list of JDRF offices she has held includes board president, vice-president and secretary; chairperson of the Board of Chancellors; gala and outreach committee member; five-time Walk to Cure Diabetes chair; and South Regional Volunteer Leader.
Even as she climbed the charitable organization’s ladder, Kristy has never hesitated to do whatever needs to be done. She contacts businesses for walk sponsorships, procures silent auction items for the gala, and mentors newly diagnosed families. “We are there to listen and to offer encouragement and suggestions on dealing with the many variables in the daily responsibilities of someone living with type 1 diabetes,” she says.
All the while, Kristy also works to raise awareness of the symptoms of the disease, including extreme thirst, weight loss, frequent urination, labored breathing, fatigue and a fruity smell on the breath.
“The path to a cure for diabetes has many steps along the way,” she says. “In the 12 years since our son’s diagnosis, there have been remarkable advances. “I will continue to do everything possible to raise awareness and generate research dollars.”
For more information, see louisiana.jdrf.org.
What do you love about the volunteer efforts that you do?
I enjoy raising research dollars, providing support to newly diagnosed families, and raising awareness of type 1 diabetes.
How is your cause making a difference?
JDRF leads the world in research related to type 1 diabetes. The mission is to “cure, treat and prevent type 1 diabetes.”
Are there a big events for your cause?
The Walk to Cure Diabetes is held in the fall. The Denim and Diamonds Derby after Dark Gala is in April.
What is something we don’t know about type 1 diabetes?
Many people assume that only kids are diagnosed with it. In fact 85% of the people living in the United States with type 1 diabetes are adults. You do not “outgrow” type 1 diabetes. It is an autoimmune disease such as MS or celiac.