Sophomore Derek Grosso, with the help of his Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity brothers, participated in America’s Walk for Diabetes Sunday.
Fraternity participation in the walk, combined with a fund-raising effort, amassed more than $1,400 for the American Diabetes Association.
Grosso, who spearheaded the campaign at GW, said he was touched by his fraternity members’ efforts on a personal level.
Grosso has lived with diabetes for the past eight years. At age 11, he was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, a form of the disease that commonly affects youngsters.
“I remember being scared,” he said. “I was thinking, `Why did this have to happen to me?’ “
Grosso, a Student Association senator who represents the School of Business and Public Management, said he learned early how to control his blood sugar levels by modifying his eating habits and injecting himself with insulin, often several times a day.
Diabetes is caused by the body’s failure to manufacture insulin. Lack of insulin leads to an overflow of glucose in the bloodstream, which can lead to fatigue, numbness and an increased risk of infection. Over time, uncontrolled diabetes also can lead to blindness.
“When I heard about the Walk for Diabetes, it really hit close to home,” Grosso said. He has participated in the New York City walk since 1991. “It’s important to me that people do get involved with the walk because the more support there is for diabetes research, the sooner we might find a cure.”
Grosso and other Lambda Chi Alpha members canvassed the campus to raise money for the event.
“Of course not every single student could donate a lot, but everyone gave what they could and the response was very positive,” said Lambda Chi Alpha member Roy Sullivan, who raised $200.
Lambda Chi Alpha member Andrew Moore said he concentrated his fund-raising efforts on GW parents during Family Weekend.
Grosso approached student groups for contributions as well. Both the SA and the Newman Center agreed to donate to the cause. The Residence Hall Association donated $100 for an 8 a.m. pre-walk breakfast. Almost 30 students met for the breakfast prior to the walk, most of whom were Lambda Chi Alpha members. Several more students joined the group en route.
Junior Ivette Fernandez, a member of Delta Gamma sorority, joined the team to represent her sorority and show support for her mother, who has diabetes.
“I liked how this event tied into my sorority’s philanthropy, Service for Sight,” she said. “Since diabetes can lead to blindness, finding a cure for diabetes is one of our goals as well.”
Many of the walkers had family members with the disease, and those people who didn’t said they were glad to be walking for Grosso.
“He needed us and we were glad to be there for him,” said graduate student Darrin Kaiser, who was Grosso’s “big brother” in the fraternity. “We help each other out, and in the end, that’s really what brotherhood is all about.”
“Diabetes is a part of my life and I’m just glad that my brothers cared about me enough to come out and support this cause,” Grosso said. “It really means a lot.”