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 playing dress-up with pam's new shoes at her house during the hurricane

i met pam on our second citywide hurricane day, when albemarle and charlottesville schools were closed, and classes were canceled at uva. her children were home from school for the day, so i was extremely lucky to steal a few minutes with her to chat about the juvenile diabetes research foundation (jdrf), her new skull-encrusted clutch, and the sip & shop event taking place on novemeber 29th at scarpa.

pam, a uva graduate, returned to charlottesville six years ago with her family, after a long stint in new york city, where all three of her children were born, and graduate school in athens, georgia. all roads really do lead (back) to charlottesville.

when her daughter holland was two years old, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. pam says that she “knew nothing” about the disease, and found herself on a “straight up” learning curve—like other parents whose children receive the diagnosis, she had to learn everything about managing type 1 diabetes, and learn it fast.

type 1 and type 2 diabetes are often confused, conflated, and misunderstood, and many don’t know the distinction between the two variations of the disease. type 1 is an autoimmune disease whose causes remain largely unknown—there seems to be a genetic component, but the disease itself isn’t necessarily hereditary. the pancreas, which produces and manages insulin levels in the body, “shuts down” in a diabetic’s body, and no longer makes insulin. this insulin deficiency demands the need of supplemental insulin and constant regulation of the body’s blood sugar levels. in type 2 diabetes, which is often diagnosed later in life, the pancreas may produce insulin, but cannot distribute and use the insulin properly. increasingly, however, more and more adults are being diagnosed with type 1, which has changed the perception of type 1 diabetes as a strictly “juvenile” disease to a disease that affects people of all ages.

pam became involved with jdrf a few years ago, and serves on the international board of directors. jdrf provides educational resources, advocacy work, and, most critically, conducts research for type 1 diabetes. right now, pam’s major initiative is to push for research funding for a project that would drastically simplify the day-to-day treatment for diabetes: an artificial pancreas. the artificial pancreas project, led by boris kovatchev at uva, is a pan-departmental, multi-national endeavor to develop a mechanical pancreas that would manage and regulate insulin levels automatically. the artificial pancreas is undergoing trials in france, but for it to be approved by the fda in the states, the pancreas would need to be tested in a three-year trial at the nih. in its most advanced form, you could manage blood sugar levels on an i-pad or android phone, just as easily as you check twitter or the weather. the extensive testing requires a great deal of funding, and bipartisan political effort—senator webb and senator warner have both signed in support of the funding, which is filed under the special diabetes program. jdrf is lobbying both the house and the senate to provide funding for the project’s trials, and the special diabetes program has acquired 272 signatures thus far.

scarpa is hosting a sip & shop party on thursday, november 29th, from 4-8 p.m. gigi is having a trunk show that night at the store, and all gigi accessories can be ordered with monograms (hey mom, are you reading this? you’re awesome! love you!). a portion of the proceeds will go to jdrf. pam has been a longtime scarpa shopper, whose store loyalty dates back to 1995 when she bought her emma hope white satin wedding shoes, which she says are her favorite scarpa purchases ever. more recently, however, scarpa decked her out for the country music awards in nashville with vera wang bowed booties (pictured above) and a serpui marie clutch that boasts the most glamorous skull detailing—you can stash your iphone in it, or wield it as a (beautiful!) weapon.

recap: come to scarpa’s sip & shop on november 29th from 4-8 p.m. for a gigi trunk show, so jdrf can acquire funding for the artificial pancreas! for more information about type 1 diabetes, please visit jdrf’s website by clicking here

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