Run For A Reason: Trystan's Story

by Jordan Olander
Running for a reason is always a special experience, but it is even more spectacular when it is done with loved ones. The Cassol/Shaffer family know this after running in honor of their grandson and nephew, Trystan. Trystan is a happy, full of life little boy that was diagnosed with type one diabetes when he was in second grade.

Trystan has been quite resilient in his journey and refuses to let type one diabetes hold him back! He wakes up happy and ready for an adventure every day rather than crying or complaining about his diagnosis. This sort of positive mentality from such a young child was an inspiration to the rest of Trystan’s family. 

When Trystan was diagnosed with type one diabetes, his and his family’s lives changed overnight. Although the family was going through a trying and heartbreaking time, they slowly saw Trystan thrive - thanks to his willpower, supportive family, doctors, nurses and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

From the start, JDRF was there to educate and mentor Trystan. And it was through JDRF that Trystan’s grandmother, Kathy, discovered she could participate in the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon race weekend events to raise money for such a meaningful cause. Instead of just accept her grandson’s diagnosis, Kathy was compelled to do something more.

She and the family look forward to participating in race weekend as a part of Team JDRF for the third year this May. Trystan’s family wanted to share in this experience together, so they chose to participate in the UPMC Health Plan / UPMC Sports Medicine Pittsburgh 5K Run, a race that they all knew they could complete. Kathy - along with Trystan’s aunts, uncles and other family members - participate in the 5K as a tribute to Trystan’s highs and lows. They run for his finger pricks, his injections and his ever-changing pump sights. According to Kathy, they all run for Trystan because “he ran away with our hearts a long time ago.”

Due to the ongoing support JDRF offers Trystan in fighting his disease, along with the encouragement they receive when participating in the 5K, the Cassol/Shaffer family no longer runs for just Trystan; they run for all of the children with type one diabetes. They feel that every step they take is a step in the right direction in finding a cure for type one diabetes.

When participating in the Run For A Reason Charity Program presented by Bank of America, you do not have to commit to running 26.2 miles. Charity runners can participate in any event, from running a leg of the FedEx Ground Pittsburgh Marathon Relay to taking a stroll with their pet in the Rachael Ray Nutrish Pittsburgh Pet Walk

For more information about the Run for a Reason Charity Program presented by Bank of America or to register as a charity runner, visit  

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