Just a few pretzels caused Pamela MacElree’s her blood sugar to drop. She downed some orange juice shortly before Urban Athlete, the fitness gym MacElree co-owns in Mt. Airy, was to host the Third Annual Burgers and Burpees contest to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).
MacElree, 32, has had Type 1 diabetes since she was nine-years-old. She wears an insulin pump the size of a beeper. The pump infuses insulin two to three times a day.
Changes in insulin levels, high or low, can be life-threatening. According to JDRF, almost three million Americans have Type 1 diabetes. 15,000 children and 15,000 adults in America are diagnosed with it every year.
MacElree brings a face to the condition, motivating gym members to participate in fundraiser each year.
“We have the facility for this,” she said.
“It becomes a community-based event, where people can make an active contribution, eat and talk. It’s a fun way to create awareness.”
What is a burpee?
“From a standing position, the person squats down like a squat thrust, jumps to their feet in a push up position, does a push up, jumps with feet back to hands in squat form, jumps in the air, and repeats,” explained MacElree.
The participants competed in sets of four to see how many burpees they could do in five minutes. In the background, music blared, trainer Andy Thorn manned the clock and the crowd cheered. On the sidelines, vendors sold food and artisan items.
Shantih Brando had the top women’s score with 75. Her son, Will Taylor, was top among the children, performing 55 burpees in 2 minutes and 30 seconds.
“I try to add a few more every year,” said Brando, whose company, Inside Out Home Solutions, was a sponsor.
“The atmosphere pushes you. We feel strongly and care about Pamela. This is the best of our community and shows how we support each other.”
MacElree fulfilled her goal of 55 burpees..
Thorn completed 96.
“It’s worth the fatigue. There is an enormous sense of pride and ownership in the gym. This is the greatest community. It’s the closest to a family you can come to in a gym.”
The event, part of Mt. Airy’s monthly Final-ly Friday, brought in $1,808. That will go up once participants collect dontations from their pledges.
Bob Elfant of Elfant-Wissahickon Realtors pledged a dollar for each burpee children did. Seven children totaled 263 burpees. Elfant then promised another $250 if the number of burpees in the 90 second sprint exceeded 250. Twenty-two adults and children totaled 440 burpees in that time.
A telling moment was when 11-year old Quincy Moore showed MacElree his insulin pump.
“He usually doesn’t want to talk about it, but he couldn’t wait to show her his pump,” said his mother, Amy Lydon.