Elementary schoolers raise funds for diabetes Type 1 research and education

Photo by Sara Parsons

“This is 28 carbs,” Sara Jensen said, handing an ice cream cone to her son Henry as he pulled his blood sugar test kit out of a silver iridescent fanny pack. You don’t often hear parents talking to their kids about watching their carb count, unless they’re a parent like Jensen with a child who has diabetes.

After a finger poke and a reading, Henry shouts his numbers across the room. His mom gives him the thumbs up and he digs into his mint chip ice cream cone. The rest of the kids waiting in line eagerly discuss which flavors they want – birthday cake! Vanilla! Chocolate! Strawberry!

Lopez Island Creamery donated 40 gallons ice of cream to the students at Friday Harbor Elementary School on Dec. 8 after the school raised $798 towards diabetes foundation Beyond Type 1, almost $300 over their goal. Yo! Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor Resort also donated to the event.

Henry Jensen, age 8, brought the idea to raise the money to the FHES student council, with the initial goal of raising $500 to contribute to Beyond Type 1’s overall fundraising goal of $1 million to go towards Type 1 diabetes research and education. Henry was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2013 at age 5.

Henry’s mother Sara is the creative director and helped design and brand Beyond Type 1, founded this February, along with other founders Sam Talbot, Sarah Lucas and Juliet De Baubigny and Nick Jonas (yes, the famous one).

“I wanted to work with an organization that brought the focus to people with diabetes as individuals, instead of defining them by their disease,” Jensen said.

According to Jensen, all operational and fundraising expenses are covered by a group of “founding friends” that fund the group. This allows for all the donations to go straight into efforts of diabetes Type 1 education, advocating and researching a cure.

Henry, who is featured on the Beyond Type 1 website, presented the idea of a fundraiser to the school’s student council with his sister.

“He has regularly made a point of donating parts of his Christmas and birthday money to charity, so it made sense for him to share that spirit of giving with the school,” Jensen said.

They then put change jars in each classroom to see who could bring in the most money. The winning class, Henry’s second grade class, won a pizza party, but since the whole school participated, an ice cream party was also in order.

“They were really kind and brought us all ice cream,” said Ella Raichlen, in fourth grade. Ella is the student council treasurer at FHES and assisted in delivering the raised funds to the bank to be sorted and counted.

Jensen said Ella was wide-eyed when told that the organization was going to try and raise $1 million total. “Who’s going to count all that change?” Ella pondered.

“We’ve been living in this community for six years now and we’re continually awed by the incredible level of togetherness this island displays,” Jensen said. “Not only were the donations generous, but many students took the opportunity to learn about type 1 diabetes.”

Visit Beyond Type 1 online for information on Type 1 diagnosis, living with Type 1 diabetes, personal essays, food and travel guides and more.