Volunteer Spotlight: The Paquette Family and Trey’s Avengers

Many dedicated teams and individuals are preparing for the 18th Annual Richmond JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes on Sunday, September 14. We recently caught up with Danielle Paquette, whose son, Trey, was diagnosed with T1D at age 6, and talked with her about her family’s involvement with JDRF and their Richmond Walk team, Trey’s Avengers.

Tell us a little bit about Trey and your family

My husband Ron and I have 2 boys. Trey is age 8 and in the 3rd grade. He was diagnosed with T1D in the fall of 2012.  He loves to play outside, Legos, reading and Star Wars.  He is on the Canterbury Swim team in the summers. His younger brother, Tarver, is 5 and in the 1st grade. We live in Goochland County.

 What caused you to become involved with JDRF?

The night Trey was first diagnosed, we were sitting in the PICU at Chippenham hospital – our first interaction came there when we were handed a JDRF Backpack.  The most precious thing in there was Rufus, the diabetic bear.  My son really attached to that little bear.  A few weeks later, I reached out to JDRF for a “mentor mom,” who has become a great friend and connection to other families with diabetes.  JDRF has become a great source of support and information for us.  Our son directly benefits from the treatment advancements they have funded in the past with his pump and CGM.  He also benefits from the advocacy JDRF does for funding in Washington, DC.  The future is so bright with upcoming advancements that the JDRF currently funds and we have so much hope that, as these technologies are tested, approved and brought to market, his life will get better.  For us, it’s a source of community and understanding.  For Trey, it’s a way to take his diagnosis and give it purpose.  He really enjoys being a Fund A Cure Youth Ambassador at the JDRF Gala events and he loves watching our Walk for a Cure totals grow.

What is the history of your walk team?

This is our second year doing the Walk for a Cure.  After Trey’s diagnosis in the fall of 2012, our lives got super busy with adjusting to Trey’s diagnosis, my husband’s spine surgery and moving.  We were very lucky that my mother-in-law, Ann, decided to sign us up for a team.  We didn’t have huge plans for it. We just thought it was an important place for our family to be involved and a great way to show support for our son.

The first year went really well.  Our walk team members were proactive about asking for donations and our friends and family were very supportive and generous with their gifts.  We had tremendous success using the tools that JDRF sets up, personal letters, and Facebook posts. After we hit about $3,000, we really wanted a donor row tent so we got a little creative.  We added corporate sponsors to the back of our shirts and had about 6 businesses pay $100 – $200 each to be on our shirts.  It was awesome and we were so excited about the generosity.  Walk day was great – we had about 20 people on our team – friends and family.  Being on donor row was great – having a little home base and getting to meet other fundraising teams, some of who are good friends now.  And we won the tee-shirt contest, which Trey helped me to design – so that was exciting for him.

What are your plans for the upcoming walk?

This year is our second year and we are going big (Trey keeps making our goal bigger).  Our goal is $10,000 and we will definitely hit it.  We were amazed and inspired by how eager people were to help, so this year we thought bigger, and were more willing to ask for help.  Our family continues to be great fundraisers. We also started looking at what successful things other teams were doing and looking at our own sphere of influence to see what we could make happen.  This year we will have 10 corporate sponsors on our shirts – raising close to $2,000.  We also did an incredibly fun event at Triple Crossing Brewery in early August.  We were able to raise over $1,700 through the generous donation of the Brewery as well as by raffling off almost $2,000 in raffle prizes that were donated to us.  Lastly, I have been doing fundraising photo sessions through my business – Little Loves Photography – and we will raise another $600 with that.  We have been having a great time connecting with people and raising money.

This year we are so excited for the Walk.  Through JDRF, the Walk and our mentor family, we have met so many awesome T1D families – we look forward to the Walk as a fun time to see them all, meet their families and enjoy a beautiful day.  We have brand new Trey’s Avengers tee-shirts (thanks to our amazing tee shirt sponsor) with a new design and new sponsors.  We are expecting between 30 and 40 people on our team.   Many of them work so hard to support JDRF and Trey, so this day is kind of a celebration.  Afterwards we all gather at my in-laws house and it turns into a great family event.  It’s going to be an awesome day!

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According to JDRF Central Virginia Chapter Executive Director, Cathy Hamm, the Paquette family’s commitment to JDRF has become a family affair. Trey’s Avengers ended up as a strong 2013 fundraising team, staying neck-in-neck with top veteran Walk teams. Cathy further stated that, “Danielle has an astounding level of energy, drive and determination to make sure their team rises to the top. It’s definitely a family affair – the grandparents (Ron and Ann) are also local, and they regularly volunteer at our office and as JDRF Ambassadors at community events. The Paquettes are an inspiration to our staff on so many levels! They have done so much for JDRF in a short time frame.”

To find out more about the Richmond Walk to Cure, click here.