Weston sisters shine spotlight on diabetes
Published 11:34 am, Thursday, December 23, 2010
Fifteen-year-old Jackie Bernstein was 7 when she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Since then, she and her sisters -- Carolyn, 17, and Rebecca, 12 -- have been helping to raise awareness, support newly diagnosed families and gather $335,000 in funds to help find a cure.
In appreciation for their team effort, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation of Fairfield County will honor the sisters, from Weston, on April 30 at its annual gala.
"We're incredibly honored," Jackie said. "We've worked together on the Walk to Cure Diabetes for six years, and are thrilled that the JDRF is recognizing us and the teamwork that we put into this. Although having diabetes is really hard, it has helped us come together as sisters and work together to support the JDRF."
Since 2003, the sisters have raised about $50,000 annually through their team, Jackie's Jogging Jamboree, which participates in JDRF's "Walk to Cure Diabetes."
"It was quite a machine they put together," said their mother, Kimberly Grillo Bernstein. "The first year, they elected not to go to camp, but instead to spend the summer planning for the walk. They set up a fundraising war room. It was quite a sight."
In addition to fundraising, Carolyn recently created the website www.jdsibs.com to serve as a support group for siblings of children with type 1 diabetes, and she was a featured speaker at the annual conference at Yale on developments in diabetes research and management.
"When something like this happens, it's really easy for everyone to retreat to their corners and withdraw themselves from the situation," said Carolyn, who is known as CJ. "That makes things worse. In our family, everyone has addressed it directly and openly, and it makes a huge difference."
"Seeing how the girls have worked together to support Jackie and to help find a cure for this disease has not only helped Jackie and the JDRF community," said their father, David H. Bernstein, "but it's also enriched our family, brought us closer together, and taught the girls about maturity and the power of philanthropy. It reminds us every day of what really matters in life."
CJ is a senior and Jackie is a sophomore at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford. Rebecca is in seventh grade in the Weston Middle School. The Bernsteins have lived in Fairfield County for more than 20 years.
JDRF Board President Charles McCool said the chapter chose to honor the Bernstein sisters because of their commitment to fundraising and for raising awareness about diabetes in the community. "The Bernstein sisters have shown not only a devotion to their sibling with diabetes, they have also embraced the need to support the other family members of those with the disease. We are thrilled to have a trio of honorees, decidedly younger than usual, but as involved as everyone preceding them in this role."