WESTERLY — Anthony Serluca said he knew almost immediately after he received a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes two years ago, at age 16, that he wanted to contribute to finding a cure.
The Westerly High School senior will do that this weekend, when he holds a soccer tournament to raise money for an organization dedicated to diabetes research.
The Score for T1D tournament will take place from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday at the high school’s Augeri Field. Seven teams have signed up to play 6-on-6 coed soccer.
Serluca, who plays varsity soccer and basketball at the high school, chose the fundraiser as his senior project. All the money he raises will go to JDRF, which began in 1970 as the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and today serves both children and adults with Type 1 diabetes.
The autoimmune disease can strike suddenly and prevents the pancreas from making insulin, a hormone the body needs to get energy from food.
For Serluca, 18, it meant a huge change in his life at home, work, school and on the athletic field.
“It affected me physically and mentally,” he said. “I have to check my blood sugar now six times each day, and take insulin before meals and after waking up. It’s a whole different routine.”
In sports, he has to closely monitor his blood sugar levels and take regular drinks of Gatorade. In the classroom, he’ll get extra time to complete his work or a test if he needs to stop to treat the diabetes.
He’s not alone. Some other high school students, including his best friend’s sister, have diabetes. So does his mentor and the person who helped him organize the soccer part of his fundraiser, teacher Thomas Albamonti.
His mother’s friend, Maria Allen, is organizing the fundraising portion.
“The community has been wonderful,” Anthony’s mother, Rose Serluca, said. “Businesses have given gift cards as prizes for the raffle, and they’ve donated food to sell at the concession, so all the money will go toward the foundation.”
Serluca said he’s heartened by all the support — from his mom and his dad, Tom, brothers Nico and Tommy, teachers, classmates and teammates.