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STiKS Academy Home Run Derby raises thousands for juvenile diabetes research

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WAUKESHA -- Some big hitters recently showed off their skills in Waukesha, and they were trying to go yards to help out some kids dealing with a lifelong disease.

Baseball is always the focus at the STiKS Academy & Sports Training facility in Waukesha. But for one day, the focus was on the long ball as they hosted a Home Run Derby.

"My daughter plays for STiKS and the gentleman who owns the facility happens to be her coach, so I asked him if there was any possibility to hold something here," said Katie Gerstmeier, whose son has Type 1 diabetes.

Jack Gerstmeier

Katie Gerstmeier came up with the idea. While the competition was a chance for anyone to show off their home-run stroke, it was also a chance to give back. All the proceeds would benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

Jack Gerstmeier is a Type 1 diabetic.

"He was 10-and-a-half when we found out he had diabetes," Katie Gerstmeier said.

"When I found out I had diabetes I was devastated," said Jack Gerstmeier. "I used to love running around, but then I started feeling sick and I'd eat too much and still be hungry, not feel well, go to the bathroom a lot, drinking a lot. Like when I was finally on insulin, I felt so much better, but it was just hard news to take in that I had something that I'd probably have for the rest of my life."

Jack is now 15, and very healthy. Part of the reason for that is a new device that was funded and developed by the JDRF and recently approved by the FDA.

Jack Gerstmeier

"They do a lot of research and funding all over the world for Type 1 diabetes. In fact, the artificial pancreas that Jack has was made by Medtronic. They were funded by JDRF," Katie Gerstmeier said.

"It's an apparatus that is going to monitor that blood sugar all the time and then connect to an insulin pump and then talk to each other which really is that next step," said JDRF Board Member, Wendy Bitter.

"It's wonderful. I enjoy it so I can monitor my blood sugars now instead of testing all the time," said Jack Gerstmeier. "I tested around 12 times a day. Now I test twice, so it's just really nice -- let my fingers heal up."

Along with the Home Run Derby, there was a raffle and auction items to bid on, a bungee run and a dunk tank with a chance to plunge Jack.

Jack Gerstmeier

"We have found just a great community in JDRF, I am a mentor for JDRF," said Katie Gerstmeier. "So we wanted to hold a fundraiser where we could raise some money bring awareness to Type 1 diabetes and JDRF, and hopefully just help in funding research to lessen the burden for every kid and actually find a cure for Type 1 diabetes."

Bitter, a board member with JDRF, said events like this are happening all over the place to support their cause.

"It's so passionate. Families really get involved and want to have. Whether it's a day like this or it's a bowling day or it's 'let's go for a bike ride,' there's a lot of different events and families raising money for it," said Bitter.

"All of our expenses have been covered for the day. All of our raffle prizes were donated, so at this point, everything raised is good. I'd love to raise a ton of money for JDRF and the kids with Type 1 diabetes," Katie Gerstmeier said.

The Home Run Derby ended up raising over $2,100. Katie Gerstmeier said she already plans to hold another one next year.

If you'd like to learn more about the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation or make a donation, CLICK HERE.