By Terri Spilman
Inspired by close friends and family members with diabetes, two Carmel teenagers turned their passion for volunteerism and love for tennis into a fundraiser called Swing It For Diabetes. The event raised more than $1,500 for the American Diabetes Association on Oct. 6.
Carmel High School juniors Vivian Heerens and Sophia Gould planned the event in a mere month, gathering donations of court time by Five Seasons Sports Club and additional prize donations from SkyZone. Attendees of Swing It For Diabetes participated in a round-robin tennis match as part of the fundraising effort.
“I have been playing tennis since a very young age and I thought I would combine my passion for tennis with my passion for helping people with diabetes, which is why I created this fundraiser with my friend,” Gould said.
One of Gould’s closest friends was diagnosed with diabetes in fourth grade.
“It’s a lot of hard work, but so worth it,” Heerens said. “I felt so great after we raised so much money.”
Heerens said she has several family members who struggle with diabetes.
According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 714,000 children and adults in Indiana suffer from all forms of diabetes; including type one, type two and gestational, and approximately 25 percent of those who have diabetes do not know it.
Gould and Heerens have been doing volunteer work through involvement in Key Club, performing arts and student government at school. This is the first time they planned a charity event on their own.
“Next year, we’d like the event to get bigger so we’ll start working months in advance,” Heerens said.
Her advice to other teens on making a difference, “Be determined, you can achieve anything if you set your mind to it.”
Donations for the American Diabetes Association can still be made on the event’s Website, www.swingitfordiabetes.myevent.com.