Cody Short, a junior at John Carroll, was diagnosed with Type II diabetes this past fall. Her diagnosis gave friends in her Jack and Jill of America Teen Group an up-close look at the ways disease can change your life.

John Corbett (far left) thanks Bianca Taylor for the $400 gift to the UAB Comprehensive Diabetes Center from the Birmingham chapter of the Jack and Jill of America.

The teens hosted a Christmas Gala this past December to raise money and donated it to the UAB Comprehensive Diabetes Center to aid in research efforts to find a cure. Teen Group President Bianca Taylor and 25 teenage members from the Birmingham chapter presented a $400 check this past month.

John Corbett, Ph.D., director of the center, accepted the check along with graduate students Aaron Baldwin and Katie Hughes.

“This is a spirit that is just amazing,” Corbett said. “What these kids have done in raising this money is extraordinary. It is a generous gift that we will certainly put to good use in the laboratory.”

Carol McElderry, teen sponsor, says Short’s diagnosis made the children aware they are in an age group that can be affected by diabetes.

“I think her personal testimony raised awareness to them of an issue and a disease they’ve probably never thought about before,” McElderry says. “They hear older people complain of ailments and complications, but they are aware now it can affect them, too.”

The Comprehensive Diabetes Center has thrived on the generosity of the community and the determination of expert researchers and physicians to make strides in treating diabetes and bring hope for a cure. Groundbreaking research has been done in immunity and autoimmunity, examining the biological mechanisms that cause diabetes, experimenting with new treatments and even successfully transplanting healthy islet cells into the body of a diabetic patient.

Corbett, Baldwin and Hughes fielded questions from the group and gave them a tour of the Shelby Building labs. Finding a cure, and the likelihood of that happening, also was on the mind of several children, including Baldwin, who has Type I diabetes.

Corbett gave students advice on the best way to combat the disease.

“If there’s one thing you can do for yourself for the rest of your life, it’s exercise,” Corbett said. “Get outside and run and play, get involved in sports.

“Start while you’re young and keep doing it for the rest of your life.”