Allsports Cafe raising funds for American Diabetes Association in honor of owner’s son

Published: Nov. 10, 2023 at 8:26 AM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - November is National Diabetes Month, which aims at bringing awareness to the disease. A local mom is acting in that initiative in hopes of saving lives after losing her own son.

“This was my husband’s life, this was my son’s life, and so honoring them, my goal is to keep these restaurants up and running for as long as I possibly can,” said CMD Inc. CEO and President, Julie Atkins.

April 16, 2000, Julie Atkins and her husband Kenneth Atkins had a dream to be self-employed, leading them to open up a restaurant in Roanoke called Allsports Cafe. It was one that would eventually expand to cities like Salem.

“We partnered up with someone who wanted to open a restaurant. Found this place, subleased it to start out with and really didn’t have a lot of expectations as to what was going to happen. We had no idea that we would be where we are today,” said Atkins.

Atkins said the community has been supportive of their business through it all. And after having their son, Lucas, they knew Allsports Cafe was a legacy they wanted to leave him. But things took a turn when Lucas was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, three weeks before his 18th birthday.

“When we look back on it now, he was probably showing signs. But we never caught it, the doctor never caught it. He went in thinking he had a kidney infection or bladder infection. They checked his urine, he had crystals, then they checked his blood sugar, and it was over 500. So, they immediately sent him to the emergency room and that’s when he was diagnosed. Right then and there,” said Atkins.

And in 2021 it seemed Atkins’ world would come crashing down, after Lucas died from ketoacidosis just 9 months after she lost her husband to kidney failure.

“I’m very, very lucky that I had a fantastic kid and I got to be with him for 23 years; not a lot of parents get to say that. He was very funny, very intuitive. Philosophy is one of his big things, he loved philosophy. Politics. He was a double major in political science and German. His goal was to be a lobbyist for healthcare, specifically diabetes,” said Atkins.

But now Atkins is being that lobbyist for her son, hosting fundraising events along with selling bracelets, t-shirts, and blue ribbons with the logo “Fight Like Lucas” with all proceeds being donated to the American Diabetes Association.

“Lucas fought hard. Anybody with diabetes, they fight, they fight every day,” said Atkins.

Friday, November 10 is the kickoff to those fundraising efforts with a karaoke night at Allsports Cafe in Roanoke. Tuesday, November 14 is World Diabetes Day. 15% of sales from the Roanoke and Salem locations will go to the American Diabetes Association.

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