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Stepping out for diabetes

Research: ‘Team Troy’ raising funds for a diabetes cure

Posted: September 30, 2010 7:33 p.m.
Updated: October 1, 2010 4:55 a.m.

The Blumenthal family, of Valencia — clockwise from top left: Troy, Dennis, Lori and Rachel — will take part in the Step Out: Walk to Fight Diabetes at Bridgeport Park on Oct. 16

When you have diabetes, you need to take certain steps to stay healthy. When your relative or loved one has the disease, you can take a lot of steps to help find a cure.

That’s exactly what the Blumenthal family will do Oct. 16, when they once again participate in the American Diabetes Association Step Out: Walk to Fight Diabetes at Valencia’s Bridgeport Park, which is expected to raise approximately $140,000 to support research and programs to help families afflicted with the disease.

Currently, according to the ADA, there are 23.6 million people in the United States, or 7.8 percent of the population, who have diabetes.

The Blumenthals, who live in Valencia, will sport snappy red “Team Troy” shirts in honor of Troy Blumenthal, 14, who was diagnosed with Type I diabetes as a kindergartner in 2002.

It was a day his mother, Lori Blumenthal, manager of the Santa Clarita Valley chapter of the American Diabetes Association, will never forget.

“It was terrible. We knew he was sick, but it took 10 days to figure out. He was in the hospital for three days and nights,” Blumenthal said. “It’s a life-changing experience. We had to rethink everything.”

Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. Only 5-10 percent of people with diabetes have this form of the disease.

As the ADA website states, diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin.
Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life.

The cause of diabetes continues to be a mystery, although both genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles.

None of those factors were present with Troy. “We don’t know anyone in the family with Type I diabetes,” Blumenthal said.

After his diagnosis, Troy was immediately prescribed insulin, with up to six injections per day.

For the last four years, the freshman at Valencia High School, has worn a port to deliver the medication.

He still checks his blood-sugar level frequently, especially while playing football; he’s a first year left guard.

“Of course, it’s a little harder to play with diabetes, but you just gotta get over that. I just go to the sidelines to test my sugar and insulin levels. It’s well worth it,” Troy said.

Complications from diabetes include blindness, amputation, kidney disease, heart failure, stroke, and other serious conditions.

“Statistics show that one out of three kids born in 2000 or later will end up with diabetes. So many families are affected by diabetes out here. We all need to be aware,” Blumenthal said.

Team Troy will consist of approximately 30 members, including Troy, friends, family and neighbors, led by Troy’s father, Dennis. Troy’s sister Rachel, 10, will help Blumenthal set up the event and also man her own lemonade stand to raise funds.

“As soon as Troy was diagnosed, everyone we knew jumped in to help. It’s a huge team,” Blumenthal said with a smile.

When asked about his family’s efforts, Troy, who plans on running the course, was appreciative.

“I think it’s great. If we don’t walk, who will? I hope we find a cure. It could take 10 years, it could take two weeks, there’s no saying,” he said.

The 4.5-mile walk will begin at 9 a.m., with registration at 8 a.m.

There is no fee to enter, though participants are encouraged to raise funds for the ADA.

Those that raise $100 or more will receive a T-shirt, while a continental breakfast of juice, coffee, fruit, bagels and cream cheese, and pastries will be available to all participants.

Sponsors for the event include Albertson’s, Outback Steakhouse and Johnny Pacific.

Blumenthal is looking forward to the walk for a variety of reasons.

“Every year, at one point during the day, I stop and cry. I think, ‘Look at this, our community did this.’ I hope people walk away feeling good,” Blumenthal said. “I believe there will be a cure for diabetes in my son’s lifetime, that one day he’ll tell his kids, ‘I had diabetes,” and they’ll say, ‘What’s that?’”

Step Out: Walk to Fight Diabetes, Saturday, Oct. 16, registration at 8 a.m., walk at 9 a.m., 23520 Bridgeport Lane, Valencia. For more information, visit


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