At age 8, Rebecca Hirjak is a big-time fund-raiser

Written by Larry Bretts. Posted in Featured

Published on August 18, 2011 with No Comments

by Larry A. Bretts

Rebecca Hirjak looks just like any normal 8-year-old child.

She’s not.

She is a type 1 diabetic.

If her blood sugar is too low, she’s in trouble. If it is too high, she’s still in trouble.

She is also a whirlwind at raising funds for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

“She’s just so darned cute,” says her mother, DeAnn, from the family home in Lowell. “She’s always smiling.” She will be entering the third grade in a few weeks at Lake Prairie School in Lowell.

Rebecca was initially diagnosed as a diabetic when she was 4½. It means, besides watching her diet, activity levels and emotions, taking up to 10 insulin injections daily.

“But she doesn’t let it get her down for the most part. But she does have some rough times,” DeAnn says. The family also includes her father, Greg; a brother, Jacob, 13; a sister, Rachel, 11; and another brother, Josh, 10.

Last September, while she was sleeping, her mother heard her cry out in the middle of the night.

A test of her blood glucose showed it wasn’t out of line. A few hours later, Rebecca was having a seizure and ultimately would ultimately wind up at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

Her blood sugar had dropped too low before rebounding and triggering the seizure.

Now she is checked twice a night.

Besides being a really nifty kid, Rebecca really shines when it comes to raising money for JDRF.

The pint-sized dynamo has coordinated some $38,000 in fund-raising.

A lot is through family and friends’ aid. Some is through the general public donations.

Upcoming for her is the Oct. 16 Walk to Cure Diabetes at Wicker Park in Highland.

Her personal goal for the walk will be $5,000, her mother says. Already she has $2,299 in pledges, 55 percent of her goal. Rebecca’s team has a goal of $15,000.

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation is a charity whose goal is to find ways to prevent, better treat and ultimately cure type 1 diabetes.

Rebecca obviously is all too familiar with this disease.

In an effort to take charge and fight back, Rebecca has done numerous events to help raise money for JDRF.

After being diagnosed, she was able to get $5,000 donated to the cause in her name. Soon after, she formed a team, “Rebecca’s Rescuers,” to begin walking in JDRF fundraising walks. She started with a team of 15 walkers to show support in Chicago. She then had the Walk to Cure Diabetes last September in Merrillville. This year, she had approximately 69 walkers come out to show support.

Beyond the fundraising walks, Rebecca also had a pancake breakfast at Applebee’s in Schererville, Indiana. She sold tickets for this event, helped set up, took orders and helped serve drinks. She also stood outside the grocery store in St. John to raise money.

She has also been to the Moses E. Cheeks Slam Dunk for Diabetes Basketball Camp, where children with diabetes are taught the campers how sports, illnesses and stress affect blood sugar levels. They learn how to make corrections to insulin intake and to demonstrate that diabetes need not prevent one from living a full, active and productive life.

A side benefit of Rebecca’s fight is that the family eats healthier. When she was first diagnosed, the house was cleaned of all junk food. “Now, everybody eats the same,” DeAnn says. It also makes it easier for Rebecca, who doesn’t have to watch siblings consuming items that would harm her.

Once, when asked if she would like to switch places with someone else, Rebecca replied “Oh, not. I wouldn’t want them to have to go through this.”

To learn more about Rebecca’s efforts with JDRF, visit

Share This Article

About Larry Bretts

Browse Archived Articles by

No Comments

There are currently no comments on At age 8, Rebecca Hirjak is a big-time fund-raiser. Perhaps you would like to add one of your own?

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.