BANGOR, Maine — Mason Hartley, a fifth-grader at the Fairmount School, loves playing linebacker for his football team. But on Sunday morning he was surrounded by 50 teammates of an entirely different sort at Bangor’s annual walk to fight diabetes.
Instead of shoulder pads and helmets, Mason’s other teammates wore T-shirts that said “Alive-abetes,” and they sloshed around town in the pouring rain because they want to support his fight against the disease.
About 200 people participated in the event.
Mason was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in January.
“When they said diabetes, I got really scared that I was going to die,” Mason said.
That’s why the family started calling it alive-abetes. Looking around at everyone who was walking to raise money for diabetes research, the fifth-grader said that he felt helped and hopeful.
His dad, Andy Hartley, said he felt proud of Mason — who apparently has a great attitude. Mason gives himself four shots a day to regulate his insulin.
“He’s given me a whole new take on life,” Hartley said. “If he can take something as serious as this as well as he has, it makes everything else in life seem pretty easy.”
Tori Jones, 11, of Hancock was walking with her “Jones for Jonas” team — named for teen heartthrob Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers, who also has diabetes.
Jonas’ positive attitude about diabetes has helped Tori find the confidence to play sports such as soccer and basketball, she said.
“That’s why she’s walking for him,” said her mom, Velma Walker, “to say thank you to him. Nick Jonas is an inspiration. Our dream is not just for her to raise money but also to meet him.”
Tori’s six-member team raised more than $5,000 in pledges, and every dollar counts, according to Ryan Williams of the American Diabetes Association. The goal for Bangor was to raise at least $30,000 for research. More than 100,000 Mainers are estimated to have it, but more than 30,000 are not diagnosed, he said.
“They estimate that one out of three kids born after 2000 will be diagnosed with diabetes in their lifetime,” Williams said.
Kacey Murphy, 5, of Searsport is one of those kids. Kacey likes puzzles, macaroni and the color pink — and has been using an insulin pump since she was 3.
“We’re walking for a cure for Kacey,” said her mom, Kelly Murphy, who walked even though she is 8½ months pregnant. “Someday she won’t have to worry about shots and counting carbs and ketones and any of that stuff.”
For more information, visit www.diabetes.org.