By Terry Duffy
Earlier this month, a group of golfers from the Niagara County area visited the Southern Tier for a good cause. Organized by Town of Porter Supervisor John “Duffy” Johnston, the Southern Tier Camp Challenge held at the Allegheny Hills Golf Club in Rushford honored the memory of Jeffery C. Hessney, who died on May 11 at age 64 in Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.
A member of the Lewiston-Porter High School Class of 1977, Hessney was a former mailman with the USPS in Youngstown. A postal carrier for more than 30 years in Lewiston and Youngstown, he was known in the area as the “unofficial mayor of Lewiston” and is fondly remembered in the community and by his associates.
Friends gathered to honor a family request that memorials in his name be made to the Juvenile Diabetes Association of WNY. Organized by Johnston, a former USPS co-worker and longtime friend of Hessney, the first-ever Camp Challenge saw 87 golfers participating and close to $2,500 raised to benefit the programs of JDRF.
Tom Guagliardo of North Tonawanda, executive director of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation for Upstate New York, which includes the Western New York region, expressed his appreciation on the benefit tourney. He said, “All the money that we generate, it goes to research to find a treatment as well to find a cure. And then to support the local JDRF programs.”
Discussing the juvenile diabetes community this organization serves, he continued, “(For juveniles) Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, so people’s pancreases are generating the insulin (like an adults).”
He remarked how Type 1 has grown to become an affliction that affects people of all ages.
“For the most part, it used to be juveniles but, over the handful of decades, more and more adults are being diagnosed as Type 1,” Guagliardo said.
Describing Type 1, he continued, “It really is a lifelong illness. It’s an autoimmune disease, very similar to things like MS, where your immune system reacts. It’s very prevalent in WNY.”
Guagliardo went on to discuss JDRF’s support with local school districts and affected school-aged children.
“It is a lifelong challenge when you’re a parent,” he said. “We try to work to provide support, emotional support, and education support (for children). All the money (raised) goes to research for treatment.
“We work with school nurses and children who have been diagnosed, from the classroom to the phys-ed teacher to the lunchroom. It’s trying to manage this (for the child).”
“Things have gotten noticeably better for those impacted by Type 1,” Guagliardo said. “The other thing we’re finding is that a lot of adults are diagnosed with Type 2, where we restrict their diet. With Type 1, you can’t; (in children) your pancreas is just not producing the insulin like an adult or in a meaningful way.”
He invited local residents to learn more about Type 1, particularly how if affects younger populations, at the upcoming Buffalo-area Family Fun Day event, Sunday, Oct. 15, in the City of Tonawanda. Featured will be a number of programs, including educational vendors, displays, face-painting activities for the kids, and plenty of pumpkins for visitors to take home.
“We’re doing a family event at Firemen’s Park in the City of Tonawanda on Niagara Street at Two Mile Creek (Road). That’s coming up on Oct. 15 from 2-5 p.m.,” Guagliardo said. “We’re (looking to assist) 120 people, newly diagnosed, from second grade to eighth grade, those families. Join us and other T1D families at Fireman's Park in Tonawanda for a day of fun-filled, fall activities!”
For more information on JDRF and the Oct. 15 Fall Family Fun Day, visit www.jdrf.org/upstateny/events/buffalo-family-fun-day/ or email [email protected].