Since being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes almost five years ago, Alex Simmons has worked to raise funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund (JDRF) — and like in basketball, he has succeeded in a major way.
Alex, a freshman at Washington-Lee High School, has raised over $45,000 for the foundation. Every year, Alex along with his family, friends and basketball teammates join “Alex’s Terminators” for the JDRF walk in D.C. This year’s JDRF walk will be held on Sunday, June 5.
Over the past five years, about 100 people have helped Alex raise funds, participating in donation parties, 3-v-3 basketball tournaments, a silent auction and other events.
“The basketball community in Arlington has been happy to support Alex and his family,” said Bill Maddox, a family friend and Alex’s former coach. “He is a special kid and talented athlete who does not let the challenges of diabetes keep him from working hard on and off the court.”
Aside from his prolific fundraising, Alex spends much of his time on the basketball court, playing on Arlington Travel Basketball and AAU teams along with his school teams — previously at Gunston Middle School, now at Washington-Lee. In 2014, he received the travel basketball program’s Russell Quinn MVP award for his athleticism, sportsmanship and skill.
“When I found out I had diabetes, what I most worried about was if I could play basketball. I really enjoy basketball and it has helped me go through this process with diabetes because the activity required to play the game helps me maintain a stable blood sugar level,” said Alex.
Because of his diabetes, Alex has to check his blood sugar levels regularly and he also needs to inject himself with insulin six to eight times a day. Along with the constant shots and finger pricks, he also finds it difficult to maintain stable blood sugar levels due to growth and his love of food.
Throughout it all, however, Alex has maintained a positive attitude.
“I am not on this journey alone, and my close friends, family and relatives make this process much easier for me,” he said. “I know that people donate money to JDRF not only for me, but for all the children throughout the country who don’t have it as easy as I do.”
Photos courtesy Kathy Mimberg