When Nik Sharma, 8, walked in the first-ever Northern Virginia Walk to Cure Diabetes last Sunday, he didn't walk alone.
More than 70 families joined Nik as a member of "Nik's Knights" as he walked the three-mile course at Lansdowne. He lead the way with a Nik's Knights sign.
In total, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation registered more than 600 people for the inaugural event ÑÊmore than twice its goal of 250.
The walk is partnered with the annual Walk to Cure Diabetes in Washington, D.C.,
"Coming out to an event like this is very healing for the kids," said Nik's mom, Nancy Sharma, as she walked. The Chantilly family learned of Nik's juvenile diabetes when he was rushed to Inova Fairfax Hospital in diabetic shock at 5 years old.
After three years with juvenile diabetes, Nik now has an insulin pump that allows him to eat s'mores with his Cub Scouts troop.
"It used to be if you had diabetes, you don't eat stuff like that," his mother said. "Now he can participate in things."
Still, diabetes has changed the lives of the Sharma family.
"It's scary several times weekly," Sharma said.
THE SHARMAS weren't the only family that came to Lansdowne with the support of dozens of friends and family.
Tom Carter of Aldie has two daughters with juvenile diabetes.
"It's life-changing," he said as he wheeled his youngest, 4-year-old Peyton, his only daughter without diabetes.
Many of Carter's fellow church members, family, neighbors and friends contributed with donations to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund or by walking.
Zachary Sosland, 7, was diagnosed at 2 years old. He and his family Ñ and the 60-strong "Zach Attack" walking crew Ñ had done the walk in Washington, D.C., for several years.
"This is our community," said Zachary's dad, Jeff Sosland. "These are our friends. This is their way of supporting us."
Between all their friends and family, the Soslands raised nearly $18,000 for diabetes research before the walk.
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation far surpassed its goal for this year's walk in Lansdowne.
"This is a big, big success," said board member Barbara Rapaport.
The May 7 Washington, D.C., walk raised $850,000. The goal for the Northern Virginia walk was $100,000, but early estimates figured the walk garnered at least twice that amount.