Staff at a well-known Kinross-shire business are gearing up for a fundraising challenge inspired by a little girl living with a life-changing illness.
Anita Casonato – whose parents, Franck and Joanna, own Giacopazzi’s in Milnathort and Kinross – was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in August last year, shortly before her second birthday.
It was the start of a rollercoaster journey for the family – who have since been joined by baby Francesca – and a lifetime of insulin dependency for Anita.
Now some of the staff who work in the two shops are to cycle 120 miles as part of a campaign aimed not only at raising funds but awareness of a disease whose symptoms are not always easy to identify.
It was while they were on holiday in Franck’s native France that Anita’s parents noticed she was excessively thirsty and tired and that her nappies were constantly wet.
At first they put her symptoms down to the heat but the fact that her 12-year-old cousin had, by coincidence, recently been diagnosed with the same condition rang alarm bells.
Anita was rushed into hospital where she spent five days undergoing tests and Franck and Joanna were faced with a steep learning curve.
They had to familiarise themselves with finger prick tests, carb counting, bolus injections, hypoglycaemia, hyperglycaemia and ketones.
“The first few months were rough, although we’re coping much better now”, said Joanna.
“Anita has to have regular finger pricks and at least five insulin injections every day. She is restricted to what snacks she can have between meals and regularly has to be woken during the night to have a snack or injection.
“Yet even when she does everything right, her glucose levels are very difficult to manage. Every day is a rollercoaster.
“Anita has had to deal with more than any two-year-old should have to. She doesn’t complain. She hasn’t once asked ‘why me?’. She just gets on with it.”
When Anita was first diagnosed, Franck and Joanna were told that it was not preventable and there was no cure.
But thanks to JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) a cure could be on the horizon. The charity funds research into finding a cure for juvenile Type 1 Diabetes, an auto-immune condition causing by the pancreas failing to produce insulin and glucose levels in the body to rise. If left untreated, it can prove fatal.
Keen cyclist Nathan Owen, assistant manager of the Milnathort branch of Giacopazzi’s, came up with the idea of a sponsored cycle, which will take place on July 29.
The team will cycle the 120 miles between Perth and Inverness as part of a summer-long fund-raising campaign being held in the two shops. A sponsored walk is being held around Loch Leven on July 20 and 21 and there’ll be a special fund-raising day on July 27.
A Just Giving page has been set up as part of the campaign at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jdrf-giacopazzi.