Athletic competitions have historically been about one thing — winning and losing. Rarely does a game have as much impact off the court as it does on it.
Thanks to two Notre Dame High School students, Mackenzie Brown and Aubrey Boland, the Nov. 24 contest between the Notre Dame Titans and the Portsmouth Trojans fit the aforementioned bill.
While the contest ended in a 64-63 victory for the hometown Trojans, Brown and Boland turned the game into a fundraising opportunity.
Both girls have been diagnosed with type-1 diabetes, and both wanted to raise money and awareness to help anyone else who has been diagnosed. Through their fundraising efforts at the basketball game and by selling T-shirts, wrist bands and participating in dollar dress down days, the girls were able to donate a $5,900 check to SOMC on Friday.
“This is a really huge donation, and we really appreciate Notre Dame and Portsmouth High School, and the students of course for getting together and raising this money,” said Kara Redoutey, director of community relations and development at SOMC. “They would like to use the money for any patients diagnosed with diabetes at SOMC, whether that would be in our emergency room or through our pediatric office.”
According to Kim Brown, Mackenzie’s mother, any child in the area diagnosed with type-1 diabetes must travel to Cincinnati Children’s hospital or Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. Considering neither hospital is relatively close, part of the funding is to help families in dire financial need as their kids are diagnosed with the disease.
“If a kid is diagnosed or has severe symptoms of diabetes, they could be at the hospital for several weeks, depending on how severe it is,” Kim Brown said. “Sometimes the families can’t afford it. By the time they take off work, the insurance issues and the travel, most people aren’t planning on taking off a week or weeks, especially if they have other children. It’s a burden.”
“Mackenzie and Aubrey wanted the money they raised to go toward the children. It would help pay their travel expense, food expenses, hotel expenses — any of the emergency things they might need.”
According to Kim, another area of concern for Boland and Mackenzie was the lack of education. Both girls decided to raise that awareness by teaching at Notre Dame Elementary School and Portsmouth Elementary school. They spent a day at each school. They taught first through sixth grade at Notre Dame and third through sixth grade at Portsmouth.
Both girls taught the younger generation about the signs and symptoms, and the differences between type-1 and type-2 diabetes.
“Some kids — I don’t want to say they’re ashamed — but they don’t want kids to know they have a disease,” Kim Brown said. “They don’t want to be treated differently, so kids sometimes aren’t willing to speak out.”
Part of the money donated to SOMC will also include education for newly diagnosed patients.
“Any of those patients that are diagnosed, they need education,” Redoutey said. “We also have a Hotshots camp that any of those patients can attend, this helps with education materials and helps with that camp. They (Brown and Boland) also want education material that they can use, so they can go out and educate newly-diagnosed diabetics.”
Redoutey, who was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes at the age of 9, feels a personal connection to the fundraising efforts by Brown and Boland.
“It makes me feel great from a personal level because I remember when I was diagnosed at 9, the children in my class were afraid to come near me when I came back to school after being in the hospital for several weeks,” Redoutey said. “They needed education to know it wasn’t something that could hurt them. I was still a normal child. I was just diagnosed with a disease, so any education to make people aware of the signs and symptoms to help diagnose children sooner, and to provide other children education on how to interact with those peers.”
The efforts of Brown and Boland will continue as an annual basketball game between Notre Dame and Portsmouth has been scheduled. Next year, the Trojans will travel to Notre Dame. The game will tipoff in November.
Reach Chris Slone at 740-353-3101, ext 1930, or on Twitter @crslone.