ANKENY, Iowa — A large crowds laced up their running shoes and walked to help find a cure for Type 1 diabetes.

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation hosted the walk at Des Moines Area Community College’s Ankeny campus Saturday morning. The JDRF traditionally holds these walks every year to raise money for research, but Saturday’s walk was the first in the metro since the onset of the pandemic.

“I’ve been personally touched with this; I have a brother, a sister and a grandfather with Type 1,” JDRF chair member Brian Coen said. “It’s just so important to raise awareness and raise money to cure this disease.”

Some Type 1 diabetics are diagnosed as young as two years old, while some learn their condition in their early 20s. Brock Nimmo, a walk participant who is the father of a Type 1 diabetic, knows the struggles of the disease personally.

“It’s totally indiscriminate who it affects and when it hits you, it changes your entire life,” Nimmo said. “It is a 24/7 365 days disease.”

The mile-long walk represented a lifelong journey for those with Type 1, but Coen said fundraising like this has already helped treatment move in the right direction.

“So much has been done with continuous glucose monitoring pumps over the past nine years,” Coen said. “You can check blood sugars from your phone app now, compared to when you used to have to prick your finger every time and carry a tester kit with you.”

More than anything, the walk is about being there for others until the race to find a cure reaches the finish line.

“I just want them to know that JDRF and the other families are here for them,” Nimmo said. “They’re not alone. It’s tough, but we get through it together.”

The foundation’s goal was to raise half a million dollars, and you can still donate by going to jdrf.org. Organizers said 90% of funds go directly towards research for Type 1.