Sumter High School students took their shot at beating diabetes on and off the court on Wednesday, and the fundraiser and awareness event they hosted was a slam dunk.
Dunks for Diabetes started four years ago as a project that some of the …
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Dunks for Diabetes started four years ago as a project that some of the school's International Baccalaureate students did for CAS (creativity, activity and service), a requirement to receive the full IB diploma where students complete and reflect upon community service projects.
"We host events and do service and reflect on that and how it betters us as a person and how it makes us grow," said Ethan Whit, an 11th-grader and co-chairman for the event.
Money collected from tickets and participating, competing five-person basketball teams benefited the Carolina Diabetes and Kidney Foundation, which is a research, education and dialysis center in Sumter.
"It's personal for some people, and it's just nice to raise awareness and just make people know it's a problem, and it's something we can fix if we just do enough about it," Whit said.
Ann Francis Brown, an IB English teacher and the CAS supervisor at the school on McCrays Mill Road, said planning, organizing, running and reflecting on events such as Dunks for Diabetes allows them to follow the idea of "thinking globally but acting locally" on causes about which they are passionate.
She said her favorite part of supervising CAS and these events is seeing her students outside the classroom.
"They're not just a student taking in information. They're actually putting it into action. So they're taking what we talked about and what we learned, and they're trying it out themselves," she said. "And it's this really, like, kind of exciting thing to witness because they're still new at it, but they're learning a lot in the process. And [from] an educator's standpoint, it's very fulfilling to get to see that."
She said she has seniors graduate, go to college and still come back for these events because they say this is what prepared them for the real world by learning to reach out to community leaders and organize a fundraiser.
"If the kids don't feel passionate about it," she said, "it's typically not as effective."
Whit's passion for diabetes awareness is personal.
"When I was about 4, my great-grandmother was my only great-grandparent alive, so getting to know her and getting close to her was special," he said. "When I was about 8 or 9, that's when she died, and diabetes was actually a great factor in that. She got pneumonia in the hospital, and she died from that, but diabetes is something that weakens your immune system."
His experience with the effects of diabetes did not stop there.
"My brother, when he was in fifth grade, so I was in third, he was diagnosed with diabetes, and I know it was a big change," he said. "It was a big shock in my life because the doctor told him if he didn't come in the night he did that he would have died.
"It's a very scary thing. It's a very serious problem, and it affects so many more people than you realize."
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