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Chester County Press

JDRF hoop event draws large crowd, heightened awareness

02/21/2017 10:39AM ● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writer

A basketball game that will never figure in any standings, nor create a highlight reel for the ages, was played last Friday night at Kennett High School.
The Kennett High School Athletic Representative Council, in partnership with the Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) student group at Unionville High School, sponsored a charity event to benefit the Delaware branch of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), that drew an enthusiastic, near-sellout crowd and raised $1,800 for the foundation.
The game pitted teachers from opposing high schools who took the court dressed in differentiating blue and white shirts, especially designed for the four-quarter game. Highlighted by three-pointers, blocked shots and fast break layups, the game was played at a furious pace from start to finish, and kicked up in intensity by two boisterous student sections who cheered their teachers' play.
The Kennett teachers beat the Unionville teachers, 50-33.
The idea for the game came from Natalie Tobey, the development director for the JDRF's Delaware chapter, who shared the idea with event organizers. When she was an assistant athletic director at a high school in Indiana, Tobey participated in a charity basketball game that pitted teachers from two neighboring high schools.
“I played in the game poorly, but it was for a good cause, so that was one of the reasons I brought this option up,” Tobey said. “With help from Kennett High School athletic director Sean Harvey, the Kennett High School Athletic Representative Council and the Unionville SADD group did everything, getting the t-shirts, the teachers, and the sponsors.”
Carli Heimann, a senior at Kennett and its Athletic Representative Council president, was diagnosed  Juvenile Type 1 Diabetes 14 years ago, when she was four years old. She did not let her disease slow her down. This spring, she will complete her four-year career on the girls' varsity lacrosse team, and will continue to play the sport when she enters Ursinus College in the fall.
“In many ways, I'm happy that I have this disease, because there really are so many positives to it,” said Heimann, who is also an ambassador for the JDRF-Delaware branch. “I was a normal kid living my life, and one day I got really sick. I want people to understand is that this disease controls the entire body, and there are a lot of things that it tries to prohibit. You have to learn how to prepare yourself to handle these instances. In some ways, this event was meant to increase awareness. If people who have Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes have more awareness of their condition, then they will have more respect for how best to live with it.”
Katie Raley is the mother of six-year-old Mairead Raley, who served as the game's honorary referee. In the two years since Mairead was diagnosed with Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes, the JDRF has played a crucial role in helping the Raley family.
“The first thing I did when my daughter was diagnosed  was reach out to JDRF,” said Raley, who is now a volunteer for the organization. “I had no idea what Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes was. I did not know the symptoms. The week after we reached out, we attended a JDRF and since then, it was the best thing we could have done, because we have met so many other families like ours who are living with Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes.”
“JDRF is the World's largest funder of Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes research,” Tobey said, “and all of the proceeds from tonight will go toward either finding a cure, which is our ultimate goal, or coming up with technologies that will make living with Type 1 Diabetes easier for patients and their families.”
To learn more about the Delaware branch of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, visit

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail [email protected].