One month, in August of 2007, after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, Brandon DeRosa and his family moved to West Chester from their Florida home. It was an emotional time for DeRosa, who broke down in tears shortly after the move.
“I just hate this disease,” DeRosa said to his mom, Tracey Hinrichs. “I can’t believe I have to live with this the rest of my life.”
DeRosa went on to say that he was never getting married or having children because “I don’t want them to live with this.”
“Brandon, you are not going to have to live with this the rest of your life,” his mom told him. “We are so close to a cure. I promise there will be a cure in your lifetime. We are too close.”
After graduating from Lakota West High School in 2009, Brandon passed away in his dorm room at Marshall University in April, the following year. He was 18 years old.
Now that Hinrichs can’t deliver on her promise to her son, she is hoping to help others that suffer from diabetes with a local fundraiser.
“Finding a cure is so important to me,” Hinrichs said. “Educating people, making them understand the symptoms of a diabetic is so important and has to come before a cure … this (diabetes) could happen, without warning, to anyone. You can just wake up one day and have this lifetime disease.”
According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation website, approximately 80 people are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes each day in the United States.
To help bring awareness and raise funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the Brandon DeRosa Memorial Benefit will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. at the Beckett Ridge Country Club July 9.
The event will also serve as celebration of Brandon DeRosa’s life.
After her son’s death, people, who have told her that they were the “loners in school” and it was Brandon “who reached out” to them and introduced them to his group of friends, have approached Hinrichs. The group, which called themselves the “garage gang,” credits Brandon for bringing them together and are still best friends to this day.
“All these people, sent me all these emails, saying Brandon was my best friend,” Hinrichs said. “I have probably received at least 50 emails from people saying that ‘Brandon was my best friend. He was there for me for all the times I needed him to listen and he made me smile and he made me laugh even when times were tough.’”
At school, many of his papers were written about friends and family. Her son wrote one of those papers, which Hinrichs plans to read at the benefit, about the day he was diagnosed with diabetes.
“It is an incredible note. He was more worried about me then he was himself,” she said. “Brandon was always worried about the expenses of diabetes and was always concerned for others.”
As well as finding his school papers, Hinrichs also found a song, titled “Dear Mom,” which was about how much Brandon loved her and how he knew she loved him.
“Brandon was my best friend from really early on,” she said.
“People say, ‘what do you miss about Brandon?’ I don’t miss him as a toddler, I don’t miss him as a baby … I miss him so much as a friend and as the person he has become. I miss that.”
Tickets to the fundraiser are $50, which includes a donation to JDRF, appetizers, dinner, non-alcoholic beverages (there will be a cash bar) and entertainment. The event will also feature WLWT news anchor Jack Atherton as the honorary emcee, a silent auction and raffle baskets. For tickets, which have to be purchased by July 5, or to make donations, contact Brandon’s sister Lindsay Conklin at 513-371-5555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Beckett Ridge Country Club is located at 5595 Beckett Ridge Boulevard.
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