Brady helping juvenile diabetes

How much would you bid to see John Brady in cowboy boots and a ten-gallon hat? That much? Well, maybe next year.

Brady, the LSU men's basketball coach, didn't don the themed Western wear, but did do his continuing part to help find a cure for juvenile (Type 1) diabetes at the Fourth Annual Boots, Bangles & Bar-B-Cure on May 7. The event, held at the Heard's Horse Arena off Old Perkins Road near Blue Bayou Water Park, was sponsored by the Baton Rouge Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and raised over $210,000 through silent and live auctions of donated items. Another $69,000 was collected in direct, tax-deductible Fund-A-Cure donations, 100 percent of which goes directly to diabetes research. Over 80 percent of the proceeds from the auctions go to research, while less than 20 percent covers administrative costs.


Brady's oldest daughter Brittany, 15, was diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes at age 10 and will live with the disorder for the rest of her life unless a cure can be found.


"It has made her grow up fast," Brady said of his daughter. "She has to check her blood sugar every day and take a minimum of three shots a day. She does all that on her own ... by herself. As normal as she may look, she's got a difference to her. She's got to be responsible ... to make sure she watches what she eats and maintains her sugar levels. If she doesn't take care of it, it can be a life-threatening situation."


Type-1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, makes children dependent on injected or pumped insulin for life and carries the constant threat of devastating complications. While the causes of this process are not yet entirely understood, scientists believe that both genetic factors and environmental triggers are involved.


People with Type-1 diabetes must take multiple daily insulin injections or continually infuse insulin through a pump and test their blood sugar six or more times per day.


Though the insulin helps to manage the disease, it does not cure it, and a cure is what the JDRF is seeking.


The Baton Rouge chapter of JDRF evolved over the past five years by a small group of people whose lives were touched by diabetes. Some of the founding members had diabetes themselves; others had children or other family members living with diabetes. The inception of the Baton Rouge Branch began with its first Walk for a Cure in November of 2000 and opened its office August 2002.


Brady supports both the Bar-B-Cure and the Walk To Cure Diabetes, another event sponsored by the JDRF. Last fall he brought out the men's basketball team to play with the children before the Walk began. He contributes his time and money every year, and also donates a road trip with the LSU basketball team for auction at the Bar-B-Cure.


"We auction off a basketball trip every year to see how much money we can raise for the organization," Brady said. "This year auctioned off three trips and got $6,200 for each trip."


The prizes are charter trips for the 2005-06 season to an SEC school and are usually used by fathers and sons, Brady said. The winners receive lodging, attend team meals, and get to sit in seats allotted the team behind the bench. They also have access to team practices and game preparation.


"The winners get to meet the players, take pictures and the like," Brady said. "They get to see the game up close and have a really great time."


"The Boots, Bangles & Bar-B-Cure came about in 2002 with V.J. and Grace Bella as our honorees," said Angelice Tyson, manager of the one-person Baton Rouge branch of the JDRF. "As many in our community know, they experienced a great loss when their son Brad died of undiagnosed Type-1 diabetes. Many organizations hold auctions or high-end dinners to raise funds, but the Baton Rouge JDRF decided to be a bit different in holding a casual affair while including great auction items and delicious food."


T.J. Ribs provided a BBQ dinner featuring ribs, chicken, brisket and all the trimmings while wine and white bread pudding came courtesy of Ruffino's Italian restaurant. Mockler Beverage made beer available to attendees, and Coca-Cola of Baton Rouge provided soft drinks. WJBO radio's Bill Profita was Master of Ceremonies and musical entertainment came from the band Louisiana.


Auction items included a black lab puppy, artwork, home and garden items and much more. Most notably, a Robert Roth bracelet with 1.70-karat Tsavorite garnets in an 18-karat white gold straight-line antique reproduction bracelet with .60-karat pave diamonds raised $3,700; and a private dinner for ten at Chef John Folses' "We're Cooking!" fetched $5,500.


Currently, JDRF is funding a $480,000 grant at Pennington Biomedical Center for a study focused on Type-1 diabetes.


"We also hold a public outreach program called Brad Bella's Buddy Day," Tyson said. "We invite any family dealing with type 1 diabetes to a two-hour event for fun and education. The last time this event was held was at Circle Bowl, thanks to their donation of lanes, food and beverages."


Brittany's mother, Sheryl, is also active with the foundation. She is the Gala Chair and leads the volunteers each year with a most successful event. Sheryl Brady spends many hours in the community asking for donations and support, is very committed in JDRF's mission and has served as the State Board President this year.


Without monies generated by the various fund-raising campaigns, JDRF cannot continue its mission to find a cure for Type-1 diabetes through research. Though her foundation deals with such a sensitive issue as sick children, Tyson finds her work extremely rewarding.


"How many people can say they work 40 hours a week and know they are making a difference in other peoples' lives?" she said. "I speak with families upon their new diagnoses and put them in touch with other families for support and help. We have so many families that are in this fight to find a cure and are steadfast in their will to do what it takes. Whether it be volunteer hours to ensure a successful fundraising event, community outreach or monetary donations, everything anyone can do is beneficial to these children."


Dr. Allen Johnston of the Louisiana Orthopedic and Spine Institute was the benefit's Premier Sponsor, donating $10,000 to the cause.


"This is the third year I've been involved," Brady said of the Bar-B-Cure. "They have a great amount of people that get this done. All the gifts and prizes for the auction ... there's a lot of work involved. This is the third or fourth year that it has been going on, and this year raised over $200,000. That's outstanding.


"It's great for the Baton Rouge community to do. It's a tribute to the community, the people involved and for all who support it the way they do."


JDRF is a volunteer-driven organization, and Tyson stressed their continuing need for help not only in their fund-raising events, but daily help in the Baton Rouge office. For more information, visit or contact the office at 225-932-9511. For national information, visit or call 800-533-CURE.

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