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Needham mom hosting Kids Party for JDRF

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By Josh Perry
Hometown Weekly Staff

For the second year in a row, Needham resident Jana Brinkhaus has organized a Kids Dance Party at the Needham Village Club, 83 Morton St., which will be held on Friday, April 8 from 6-9 p.m.

There will be an interactive DJ, dinner, an ice cream bar, a photo booth, face-painting, performances, and much more.

The event will raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) in honor of Jana’s daughter Karolina who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 2-1/2 years old and has been battling the disease on a daily basis ever since.

In addition to Karolina, who is in third grade at Broadmeadow, the event raises awareness about all children who are battling the disease, including her friends and fellow Needham residents Vivian Krawiecki (fourth grade at St. Joseph’s) and Grace Hawkom (second grade at Broadmeadow) who became friends through last year’s event.

“It’s nice to know you’re not fighting this alone,” said Vivian about having friends who are going through similar experiences.

Grace can also look to her siblings for advice and assistance, as she is one of three members of her family that has type 1 diabetes, but as the girls’ mothers explained it also helps seeing a familiar face during one of the frequent trips to the nurse’s office.

Although over the years the girls have become accustomed to managing the symptoms and recognizing times when their insulin levels are getting too high or too low, there is no rest with diabetes.

There are omnipod devices that limit the number of shots that they need to receive and there are phone apps that allow the girls and their parents to monitor levels, but it still needs to be watched closely, especially as the girls stay active with hockey, soccer, or swimming or just being out with friends.

Grace explained, “It’s hard with the [hockey] helmet if I’m low because if I want to eat Smarties and you have to get it through the mask.”

Vivian added, “I’m just used to eating things and not worrying about what was on the back because we didn’t know what any of that meant. Now we understand it all.”

She explained that there are times when she feels her levels are low but often it is already after they have hit a dangerous level. Vivian added that her friends can also recognize times that her levels are off and offer support.

There is a misconception about type 1 diabetes, which was previously known as juvenile diabetes. While type 2 diabetes is associated with obesity, poor diet, and lack of exercise (although it is not always caused by those factors), type 1 is a disorder in the immune system and, according to the Mayo Clinic website, has no definitive cause.

The children and young adults who are battling type 1 diabetes did not cause the disease, but have to manage it every day and Jana is hoping her event can help bring more awareness for the need for more research.

In a letter to friends and family, Jana wrote about the time before Karolina’s diagnosis, “We were not constantly worrying, always on edge, looking at her devices, making minute-by-minute decisions all to keep her safe…I want Karolina to have this life back again.”

“I want a better life for her and all the kids who live with type 1 diabetes.”

For more information or to donate, contact Jana Brinkhaus at For more information about JDRF and about type 1 diabetes, visit

Josh Perry is an Editor at Hometown Weekly. He can be reached at and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

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