The goal for this ‘Dream Team’ was not an Olympic gold medal. It didn’t include any professional basketball players, either.
A big assist from Monsanto, though, lifted “Blake’s Dream Team” to success.
“Blake’s Dream Team” is the moniker adopted by a team of 51 people – mostly the friends and families of three Monsanto employees – who participated in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s (JDRF) Walk to Cure Diabetes on Feb. 18 near Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Blake is the 12-year-old son of Bill Zimmerman, an Operations Manager for Monsanto’s Kruger Seed brand in Dike, Iowa. Blake was diagnosed with Juvenile Type 1 Diabetes in July, 2006. For the past several years, the Zimmerman family, coworkers and friends have participated in diabetes walks, helping to raise money for research toward a cure for the disease.
This year, “Blake’s Dream Team” raised $6,992, surpassing its goal of $5,000 by nearly 40%. Monsanto, through its corporate donation-matching policy, contributed $1,500 to the team. The walk raised a total of $102,000.
“Monsanto’s contribution has helped raise our team total by 25%,” Zimmerman said. “The match is very important to our goals as a team, and that amount they contribute goes toward research for a cure, which is why we participate in the walk every year.
“The way the match process works, it is very easy and it really is employee friendly. I appreciate that.”
Zimmerman was joined on “Blake’s Dream Team” by Holly Kruger, a Customer Service Representative for Kruger, and Walter Mayhew, the General Manager of Kruger.
“Many other people contributed but were unable to attend the walk,” Zimmerman said.
The JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes took place at the Crossroads Mall in Waterloo, Iowa.
“We get together and walk around the mall,” Zimmerman said. “We do it before the mall opens and there are activities like face-painting, games, things like that. It’s a fun atmosphere.”
Type 1 Diabetes is a disease in which the pancreas produces too little insulin, leading to organ damage and death if untreated. According to the website for the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 million people in the U.S. suffer from diabetes, with approximately 5% of those, or approximately 1.29 million people, suffering from Type 1.
Blake spent the first years after his diagnosis undergoing daily injections to control the disease, and now uses a special pump to control his insulin levels.
“We were fortunate to catch it when we did,” Zimmerman said. “Now it’s just a matter of controlling it, keeping ourselves educated and trying to find a cure.”
Added Mayhew: “To hear the Zimmerman’s story of having the disease diagnosed, to how they live with it, to the changes in treatment they have experienced in only a few years is very moving. I was glad to help.”