But having a child with diabetes raises those challenges to an entirely different level.
To Madison resident Carol Murphy, a retired nurse, the reality of juvenile diabetes (JD) was a personal matter. Her grandson was diagnosed with the disease when he was just an infant and she knew the health implications all too well. She wanted to make a difference in his quality of life, so instead of sitting silently by, Carol got busy. She came up with the idea of a children’s fair to raise money for JD research.
She started recruiting families of children with JD and sought donations from family and friends. When the Madison Foundation got a call, it responded quickly.
“Even though they were new, we felt Carol and her group were very organized,” said Madison Foundation Board member Dick Benson. “We understood the importance of what they were doing and believed in them.”
The budget for the fair, which is the only event in Madison that is solely for children, is about $3,500. The giant slide is the biggest attraction at the fair and the most expensive to rent, according to Murphy. The Madison Foundation’s donation helped pay for the slide, but also helped leverage additional funding.
“The Madison Foundation was a strong supporter from the beginning, financially and emotionally,” says Murphy. “Their involvement even encouraged others to support our efforts.”
The Children’s Fair is truly volunteer-driven. The local Stop & Shop provides all the food and the entire community is involved, from high school students to senior citizens. Now in its 10th year, the fair has seen Murphy “retire” and longtime volunteer and new coordinator Sharon Coer take over the reins. These are big shoes to fill, but Coer is up to the challenge.
“Everything was in place so I just had to build on what was already there,” Coer said. “Carol has been a great friend and mentor and this has been a wonderful experience.”
Over 10 years. the Children’s Fair has raised a bit more than $100,000 for JD research. Most of the money raised here remains local because of the number of research hospitals in Connecticut. There are new developments every day to help families manage this disease, according to Coer, whose son also lives with JD.
“The most important thing is raising a child to have enough confidence to go through life with no barriers,” she said.
This article, the fourth in a series profiling The Madison Foundation, originally appeared in The Source.