Pumpkin Run benefits Type 1 Diabetes

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By Tammy Shaw

Run for your life may be a catchy phrase to promote a movie, but parents of two Shelbyville children with Type 1 Diabetes are asking the community to run for their kids, Sophie and Wyatt, and others with the often-misunderstood disease.


Malia and Josh Hurst are hosting the 4th annual 5K Pumpkin Run to benefit Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

This year the run will also feature a 10K for those hearty souls who can finish the course at Gallrein Farms, where the event will take place Sept. 21.

Malia Hurst emphasized that anyone can come to walk or run as far as they want. There’s no need to finish the entire 5 or 10K.

In years past the run had a 1-mile kids’ run/walk, but most of the kids that came ran the 5K instead, so kids will run or walk with their parents.

The inspiration

Five years ago, the Hursts ran in a 5K but it wasn’t for charity. After finishing the course, they decided to create a run to benefit a charity — JDRF.

Gallrein Farms is known for its seasonal farm market and extensive fall activities — hayrides, corn maze, train rides, pedal tractors, haunted house, petting zoo and more.

“It will be cool to kick off the fall at Gallrein,” Malia Hurst said, the farm her aunt and uncle own.

Another change from previous years is no business sponsors. “We posted on Facebook this year,” she said.

Sophie and Wyatt create and post videos on Facebook to educate the public about their disease. And the sister and brother team were recently on WLKY-TV during their JDRF telethon. “They even did a commercial that ran on Froggy radio,” their mom said. “They don’t mind most of the time, because the more people know the more they can help. But there are days they don’t want to talk about it.”

The cause, the challenges

Neither Malia or Josh Hurst had a history of diabetes, so when son Wyatt, now 10, was diagnosed at age 5, they were surprised.

“We thought, ‘Where did that come from?’” she said. “We were like a deer in the headlights.”

Then their daughter Sophie, now 11, was diagnosed.

They then turned to the JDRF to understand the challenges ahead.

“I don’t know if anyone understands how difficult this disease is,” she said. “There is constant monitoring, shots, finger pricks and alerts.”

Throughout the day, Sophie and Wyatt are in the nurse’s office at school getting insulin or checking blood sugar and adjusting as needed. “It’s a full-time job managing diabetes,” Malia Hurst said.

Not only does food affects blood sugar, but puberty, emotional triggers and even exercise can change numbers.

Sophie entered middle school this year, which can be stressful for any pre-teen.

“It’s been a hurdle for them and is as hard for parents,” mom said. “I think she’s handling it well.”

In order to keep their kids safe, the Hursts had to educate them on the harsh realities of dealing with their disease.

“We had to take away their innocence and teach them that if they don’t take care of the disease, really bad things can happen like kidney failure and blindness,” she said. “They grew up a little faster than most kids.

“Everything they take into their mouth has to be monitored. There’s a misconception that all you have to do is exercise and cut carbs.”

The insulin package Malia picked up recently read: “Too much kills, too little kills and just right to stay alive.”

Although 200,000 under the age of 20 have Type 1 in the U.S., “juvenile” is a misnomer. Type 1 is a disease that affects 1.25 million people in the nation.

According to the JDRF website, “Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas are mistakenly destroyed by the body’s immune system. T1D seems to have a genetic component and can be diagnosed early in life but also in adulthood. Its causes are not fully known, and there is currently no cure. People with T1D are dependent on injected or pumped insulin to survive.”

The Hursts pulled together as a family when Wyatt was diagnosed. Counting carbs and exercise became a way of life for the entire family.

“Josh and I run regularly. We want to show [our children] that they can do anything they want, that they can be healthy with diabetes.”

The run

The 5K and 10K will be hosted at Gallrein Farms Sept. 21 to benefit the local JDRF chapter.

Early registration is available at headfirstperformance.com. Day-of registration starts at 7 a.m. in the pavilion and the race begins at 9 a.m. The 5K is $35 for adults and the 10K $45. All runners 12-and-under are $20 for the 5K.

Malia Hurst urges the community to come out and support those with the disease.

“In just five years JDRF has had incredible advances,” she said. “Hope for a cure is always there, but I’ll take progress if I can get it.

“Without a cure, I’ll never lay my head on a pillow,” she said, without worrying about her kids.