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You are here : 3-RX.com > Home > Diabetes -

Family takes a swing at diabetes

DiabetesMay 20, 10

All three of Val and Diane Henson’s daughters were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as young children.

As devastating as that news was, it was one nightmarish incident about 14 years ago that spurred the Lake Forest family to become champions for a cure.

Clare, the youngest, was 4 years old when her blood sugar dropped so suddenly in her sleep that she nearly stopped breathing.

Diane gave her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, while the older of Clare’s sisters, Lauren, called 911. A shot of glucagon, a hormone that raises blood glucose levels, saved her.

After that, the family decided it was not enough just to attend the annual diabetes walk, said Lauren, now 23.

They planned and organized what became the Sports Trivia & Golf Classic at the Lake Forest Country Club, an event that raises about $100,000 a year for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

This was the sixth year for the golf classic, and the May 10 event paired 29 teams with local and national athletes, like Will Perdue, who won NBA championships playing for the Chicago Bulls and the San Antonio Spurs; and Robby Albarado, the jockey who won the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2007.

The tournament was followed by a dinner and the 12th annual auction.

The family is hopeful that next year, the event will surpass a cumulative total of $1 million raised.

Meredith Gault, executive director of the Kentuckiana Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, says the event is one of the biggest and most important for the organization in the state.

The family credits the idea for the event, and its success, to Val Henson.

Years ago, he met retired pitcher Jim “Mudcat” Grant, who had a successful career in the 1960s playing for the Cleveland Indians and the Minnesota Twins. Grant, who has type 1 diabetes, understood Val’s concern for his daughters.

Grant told Val that if he ever needed anything, to give him a call.

Val took him up on that offer about five years later, when he asked Grant to lend a hand getting his fundraiser going. Grant not only remembered Val, but promised to help, a promise he’s made good on every year since.

In the years that followed, more and more star athletes agreed to donate items to the auction and attend the golf tournament.

Val said the disease is deceptive. His daughters appear to be the picture of health. Lauren is a communications associate with a local public relations firm; and Meredith, 20, and Clare, 18, are college students. But the serious risks associated with their disease range from blindness to reduced lifespan.

Grant said the Henson family and their story make athletes and others return to the event year after year.

“It’s because of the girls talking about their disease and their faith,” he said. “You can’t help but come back.”

Reporter Niki King can be reached at (502) 582-4248.

By Niki King
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