The South Jersey chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation will host its first-ever Walk to Cure Diabetes fundraiser on the Wildwood Boardwalk on Saturday, May 18, to raise money to help find a cure for Type 1 diabetes.

North Wildwood resident and event participant Kathleen Connelly, who will lead team "Connelly for the Cure," said she's walking in honor of her son and grandson, both of whom have Type 1 diabetes. Connelly's son received a diagnosis at age 14 and her grandson, who is now 26 years old, at age 18.

"After my grandson was diagnosed, I just knew we had to do something," Connelly said. "I just felt so helpless."

At that time, she joined an informal committee of North Wildwood residents who get together to organize annual fundraisers for JDRF. The committee consists of about 10 local women, all with loved ones who have Type 1 diabetes.

During the past nine years, the women have helped raise more than $100,000 for JDRF, with their main annual fundraiser being a beef and beer held each July at Keenan's Irish Pub in North Wildwood. This year, the JDRF Walk for the Cure will replace their July event. Depending on the walk's success, compared with that of the annual beef and beer, the committee will decide if supporting the walk will become its main annual fundraiser effort.

So far the walk has been getting a great response, said Ashley Trasser, senior development coordinator of JDRF's South Jersey Chapter, with more than 100 teams already registered with an expected 3,000 walkers.

Trasser said she commends the North Wildwood women for the efforts in supporting JDRF's mission.

"For such a small group, they do an amazing job," she said.

North Wildwood resident and Walk for a Cure participant Ruth Hatala, also a member of the local committee that raises funds for JDRF, has two young grandchildren with Type 1 diabetes who were diagnosed at age 5 and 9.

"I just saw the hardships they had to go through, and I knew I had to be a part of the solution," Hatala said.

She is confident a cure will come about and believes every dollar raised brings it closer.

"I honestly and truly feel they're going to come out for a cure for this, which is why I'm so passionate about raising more money," Hatala said. "It's children, and I feel children should have every opportunity to live full, stress-free lives - to just be children."

Contact Elisa Lala:

609-463-6713

If you go

What: JDRF's Wildwood Walk to Cure Diabetes

When: Saturday, May 18. Registration is 9:30 a.m. at Morey's Adventure Pier/Guest Services. Walk starts at 10:30 a.m.

Where: The Walk is a 3-mile route on the Wildwood Boardwalk.

All proceeds benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's goal to raise money for research that will lead to better treatment and prevention of Type 1 diabetes, and ultimately find a cure for the disease. To register, sponsor, build a walk team, or for more information, visit jdrf.org or call 856-429-1101.