Bailey never leaves 10-year-old Wyatt Becker's side. He plays with him, travels with him to violin lessons, stays nearby during his home-schooling, and sleeps with him ever-ready to alert Wyatt when his blood sugar is low. Even though Wyatt is self-aware enough to know when his levels are down, it gives him a boost of security knowing Bailey is there watching over him.
Wyatt was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 4. Initially unfamiliar with the illness, parents, Alicia and Jeremy, began doing their research. Their eventual desire to connect with others led to the decision to join in the annual Walk to Cure Diabetes, sponsored by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
In completing the participant form that first year, Alicia asked Wyatt how much he thought he could raise for the cause, and a goal of $100 was decided upon. Around the dinner table that evening, Jeremy was told about their plans.
"That's not a goal," Jeremy responded. "I could give you $100. You're 6, Wyatt you should raise $6,000."
And so began Wyatt's annual fundraising campaign. Self-assured, determined, and confident-far-beyond-his-years, Wyatt went out on cold-calls at Oakhurst and Fresno businesses, giving them his well-rehearsed sales pitch.
The results? Wyatt not only raised $9,000 that first year, but each year thereafter, he has raised between $9,000 to $11,000 a combined total of an estimated $40,000.
"Diabetes hasn't changed my life much," Wyatt said, "except that I need insulin shots now and have to figure out the number of carbs in foods."
When asked what his dreams are, Wyatt said without hesitation, "I want to be a man of God ..." and after an ever-so-slight pause, he added "and a soccer player and a violinist I guess that's all."
More immediate is Wyatt's goal to raise $10,000 for this year's three-mile Walk for the Cure, which will be held on March 29 at Woodward Park. This will bring his cumulative total to $50,000.
So far, Wyatt has raised $3,500. It only gives him a few weeks to raise the $6,500 needed to reach his goal, but Wyatt's not worried. He not only thinks he can he knows he can.
With so many living with Diabetes, it is Alicia's hope that other area families join in the walk to support the cause; (one out of every 13 is affected by the illness, and in the central valley itself, the number jumps to one out of every 10).
"There are only two families from the Mountain Area that participate in this walk," Alicia said. "I know there are other Type 1's up here, so I would encourage them to join us. It's a great way to meet others, a great walk, and a great cause." At last year's walk, there were about 700 participants, with an estimated $72,000 raised.
With little more than a month before the event, Wyatt is ready to pound the pavement. With hand outstretched in a friendly and professional greeting, he begins.
"Hello, my name is Wyatt Becker and I'm a Type 1 Diabetic ... will you sponsor me?"
To sponsor Wyatt, make checks payable to JDRF, send to: 51791 Road 426, Oakhurst, 93644; or 2.jdrf.org/goto/wyatt.
Walk for the Cure details: Jeremy Becker, (559) 760-7522.