Q&A with Jamie Kurtzig, The Royal Ball – A Scavenger Hunt Soirée

Ten year old Jamie Kurtzig is the brainchild behind the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) fundraiser, The Royal Ball. Jamie has type 1 diabetes and is hoping to reach the $1 million mark this year towards finding the cure while having fun in the process. This year’s theme is “A Scavenger Hunt Soirée” and will be held on May 2nd, 3-7:30pm at Mission Bay Conference Center at UCSF in San Francisco. Tickets are on sale now and the party has sold out each year! I am extremely excited to share my exclusive interview with Jamie.

I can’t wait to go to this years event! Can you tell me about The Royal Ball?

This event coming up is called The Royal Ball - A Scavenger Hunt Soirée. We change the theme every year and 300 people can come. It’s also a really fun event for families. This will be my 6th year helping in some way with The Royal Ball.  One year it was Princesses & Pirates, another it was “Destination China”, then “Destination India.” This year The Royal Ball will be a scavenger hunt with lots of fun activities and surprises. People can come in costume and be with their teams/families/friends for the scavenger hunt and have a great time.

Who came up with this great idea?

It was my idea because my mom and dad would go out to fancy diabetes fundraising parties only for grown ups and I felt that was unfair. So I told them that I am the one with diabetes,  that I should be able to go to the fun parties, and they thought I was right. My parents made a fun event for the whole family so everyone can go to and have lots of fun.

What is it like to have type 1 diabetes?

I’ve had type 1 diabetes for nine years. I got it when I was one and now I am ten. Sometimes my blood sugar is low, about 70 and under, or high, 200 and up. We want to stay in the 100’s. Having diabetes means I have a pancreas that doesn’t work as well as it should. I can either have shots or an insulin pump. Whenever I eat, I have to count carbs and put insulin into body with my insulin pump.

What is an insulin pump?

It looks like a cell phone, only smaller, and has a tube that goes into my body and gives insulin whenever I bolus (another word for giving insulin.)

Are you able to take care of your medical needs?

I need some help because I don’t know how to count grams of carbohydrates all the time. Some foods are tricky to count like pizza and foods with tons of sauces and ingredients.  I can count some carbs like fruit, ice cream, vegetables, things with labels, milk, etc.  I can manage it pretty well. I can check myself which means sticking myself with a little lancet (a poker) so blood comes out and then I can see how much sugar is in my blood.

If they discovered a cure for diabetes how would that change your life?

That would mean I don’t have to bolus everyday or have a nurse be with me at school, and I wouldn’t need glucose tabs or an insulin pump. My pancreas would be just like everybody else’s. That would change my life, but I don’t know what life is like without diabetes.  It would just be so different.

What are your favorite activities and subjects at school? 

My favorite activities are Tae Kwon Do (I am going for my black belt this month), running track, reading, writing poetry, and working on my businesses, WetPads and Kurtzeggs.   Wetpads is a business I started when I was 8 that sells waterproof iPad holders with custom made art on the back. Kurtzeggs is a business that I started to sell the extra eggs we have from our chickens to our neighbors. They are organic and all different colors! I don't have a favorite subject at school - they are all so fun! I'm probably the best at math though. 

What do you want to be when you grow up?

When I grow up, I would like to be a CEO of a company, a field biologist, and an author.

Anything else you want to add?

I hope a lot of people can come to The Royal Ball this year and help us reach our goal of $1 million to find the cure for diabetes. So far we made $800,000 so we hope to cross the million dollar line.

Tickets for The Royal Ball are on sale now. Don’t miss this fun family gala, complete with dinner, live auction, and family-friendly entertainment. This year The Royal Ball - A Scavenger Hunt Soirée is May 2nd, 3-7:30pm at Mission Bay Conference Center at UCSF in San Francisco. All proceeds go to fund type 1 diabetes cure research. For more information visit  jdrfbayarea.org/royalball or contact Frank Bitonte at (415) 597-6313 or email fbitonte@jdrf.org.