A's lend support to juvenile diabetes research

A's lend support to juvenile diabetes research

OAKLAND -- The A's held their 17th annual Root Beer Float Day prior to Tuesday's game against the Astros at the Coliseum, an event in which players, celebrities and members of the media served root beer floats to fans to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which combats Type-1 Diabetes.

The A's sold floats and limited-edition mugs to fans, and raised $38,460 and have now raised more than $486,000 throughout the event's history. A's outfielder Sam Fuld has Type 1 Diabetes and had a lengthy line of fans waiting for him throughout the event as he signed commemorative ice cream mugs and took pictures with fans.

Fuld, who sits on the board of JDRF's Tampa Bay chapter and organizes an annual sports camp for youth athletes with Type 1, acknowledged the event's importance, adding that JDRF "is near and dear to my heart."

"It's a physically demanding disease, but it's also a mentally and emotionally demanding disease, too," Fuld said.

Type 1 Diabetes is rarer than Type 2, and occurs when the body's immune system destroys cells that release insulin, meaning those with Type 1 have a total lack of insulin, according to WebMD.

"I think the majority of people probably can't even distinguish between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, which is quite a difference," Fuld said. "There's still a lot of stereotypes we have to overcome, too. That's half the battle. As much as we'd like to find a cure, we're also concerned with just educating and promoting awareness."

A's manager Bob Melvin's daughter, Alexi, also has Type 1 Diabetes, and he was on hand to scoop ice cream and meet fans Tuesday.

"It just seems like [the event] gets bigger and bigger every year," Melvin said. "It's humbling to see all the stars that come out for it. … I think it's one of a kind, as far as things go here, certainly during the season and at the ballpark. I'll do all I can for it."

"It's very much a close-knit community," Fuld said. "People on the outside really don't know what we go through on a daily basis. You immediately have that bond and you can sympathize with each other immediately. Unless you're really a parent of a Type 1 or a Type 1 yourself, you don't know what we go through."

Tuesday's event also provided fans, particularly young fans, a chance to interact with players and celebrities.

A bevy of players attended, including Josh Reddick, Stephen Vogt, Sean Manaea, Liam Hendriks and Ryan Dull. Media personalities also scooped ice cream and handed out sugar-free Zevia soda, and former players such as Rickey Henderson and Terrence Long took pictures with fans.

As Long was asked about the event, a fan approached him to say his signature was her first-ever autograph when she was a child.

"The fans out here are great," said Long, who participated in the event for the second straight year. "They always show me love every time, regardless of the situation. It's my pleasure to come back and help out any way I can."

Mark Chiarelli is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.