TEAM CARLY ROCKS FOUNDATION
After getting tired of participating in walks and other fundraising events to raise money and awareness for diabetes, six-year old Carly Lennett asked her dad if she could swim to raise money. After all, she had fearlessly jumped into a pool as a three-year old and immediately loved the water, so it was the perfect fit.
Carly, who battles Type 1 diabetes, has never let the disease slow her down. Instead, she’s fought it head-on, with the help of her dad, Mitch, who also has the disease.
Carly swam her annual fundraising event recently, completing a 5K in the Emmaus High School natatorium.
The event has grown from a somewhat simple idea the first year to an elaborate day filled with training for young athletes on sports psychology, fitness, nutrition and swimming techniques. Former Olympic swimmer Gary Hall Jr., who helped with the event for the second year, conducted sessions for four different groups of athletes.
Mitch Lennett admits he had some concerns coming into the first year, knowing the huge task his daughter had undertaken. The first event was nearly cut short when Carly’s blood sugar levels started to spike, but she was able to finish. This year, she suffered an injury that kept her out of the pool for eight weeks, severely limiting her time to train.
“It’s routine, but it’s not. With diabetes, there is no routine,” he said. “I’m 49-years in and it still surprises me, because you’re cruising along and all of a sudden, your blood sugar spikes and you don’t know why. She had to miss all that time in the pool and it was driving her crazy, so she’s ready to go today.”
“I really just want to help other people and other kids who have diabetes,” Carly said before starting the event. “Other kids have told me that I’m helping them and to keep doing what I’m doing.”
The goal for this year’s event was to raise $40,000, which would bring the total amount raised to $150,000 over the six years. While the money is extremely important, raising awareness of the disease and the complications it causes may be just as important.
Layne Musto Key, 7, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 13 months ago and life immediately changed. Things like finding a babysitter who could handle being educated to care for Layne should her levels drop severely, and educating other parents, so she could go on playdates made even routine things difficult.
“We didn’t know anything at first and to expect somebody who doesn’t know anything about diabetes to care for a child, it’s really hard; it’s a whole new world,” Layne’s mom, Dana, explained. “Even if you had been exposed to it, Carly’s triggers might be different from Layne’s triggers. It’s not a consistent science. It’s nice for her to be around people who have the same disease and see it’s not just her. I think sometimes, she feels alone.”
Emmaus swimming coach Tim O’Connor helped to organize the event, as he has every year. He’s always amazed at how the event grows year-to-year. This year, he added a new wrinkle by inviting other teams to the event. Teams from Liberty and Whitehall just to name a few took part in the sessions and in cheering on Carly throughout her swim.
“I just thought that there are probably coaches and teams out there that come across an athlete with diabetes and thought what a great way to help them understand the disease and help their other athletes understand the disease,” O’Connor said.
The Team Carly Rocks Foundation is holding another fundraiser Oct. 29 at the Schnecksville Fire Company when they will put on their first annual Carly Rocks For A Cure rock concert featuring five regional bands. For more information on the event or to donate to the foundation, visit teamcarlyrocks.com.