Kids walk for a friend in Margate

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Kids walk for a friend in Margate

MARGATE – Children at the Katz JCC learned an early lesson Thursday in helping out their friends.

The Early Childhood classes at the JCC walked around their building on Jerome Avenue to support a former classmate, Mia Merlino of Ventnor who has juvenile diabetes by holding a Kids Walk to Cure Diabetes sponsored by JDRF, a charitable funder of type 1 diabetes research.

Last year, Merlino was a preschool at the JCC, her peers learned of her affliction when teachers Gayle Somers and Jan Higbee would monitor her blood sugar and administer insulin shots to regulate her type 1 diabetes.  

On Thursday, Oct. 18, Merlino, her brother Nicholas and mother Nikki joined her former classmates in the walk. With signs, hats and a beautiful fall day, the students stopped at stations to do jumping jacks, hula hoop, and even gallop like a horse for a good cause. There were even bubbles to keep them motivated along the way.

Many of the signs children made and held read, “Kids helping Kids.”

At the end of the walk, the kids enjoyed a healthy snack of apples, oranges and water.  

“It’s overwhelming,” Nikki Merlino said. “It’s great they offered to do this walk and have us come back to support the cause.”

Mia Merlino, who is now a kindergarten student at the Ventnor Educational Community Complex, was happy to be with her friends who support her.

Asked how the event made her feel, she replied, “Happy.”

Her mother elaborated.

“I am so thankful to the JCC and JDRF for supporting my baby’s cause,” Merlino said. “I especially thank Gayle and Jan for making it all happen.”

“This is absolutely amazing,” said Somers. “The children are really enjoying the different stations and exercise. It’s a fun, fun thing for this important cause.”

Students were encouraged to raise funds for the JDRF and kids program coordinator Dana Gold was instrumental in organizing the walk Thursday. JDRF kicked off its fundraising campaign Oct. 4. See 


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