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Freestyle bullfighting event in Spanish Fork raises funds for Type 1 diabetes research

SPANISH FORK, Utah -- A Utah family has been raising money to fund a cure for Type 1 diabetes for years.

Gary and Cyndi Jones have been passionate about bullfighting for decades, long before their 16-year-old son Westlee Jones was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 10 years ago.

“I hope there is cure,” Cyndi Jones said. “I refuse to give up hope because I want it for my son and possibly for his children.”

The Jones' are hosting their annual “Freestyle for Hope” bullfighting event at the Spanish Fork Fairgrounds Saturday, September 23rd from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Tickets can be bought here.

While the sport is called freestyle bullfighting, it is described as being similar to a dance and does not involve injury to the bulls.

The family has a lot of support, including 12 free styling bullfighters from across the country. The bullfighters understand how important the cause is to the Jones family.

“Man, I am glad I get to be a small part of his effort,” said Jason Farley, a barrel man from Arkansas.

Farley is the comic relief to the dangerous shows, and he uses a giant barrel to help the bullfighters.

This competition also includes Westlee. He has to be careful managing his Type 1 diabetes while he is bullfighting. His mother said she only allows him to bullfight in this one competition because it is so dangerous and he is not 18 yet.

“It means a lot to me to see these guys do what they love for me," Westlee said.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. Antibodies attack the pancreas inside the human body and prevent it from producing insulin. Insulin is a hormone that breaks down food so a person can live. There is no cure.

There is a lot of research toward finding a cure, and The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation is helping fund that cure. It raises thousands of dollars to make that cure happen. It has funded a number of technology devices that help Type 1 diabetics lead a healthier and easier lifestyle.

“That would be the biggest gift I could ever receive in my life, is to have a cure for this,” Cyndi Jones said. “I tell [Westlee] we are going to have a big party when that cure comes, we are going to celebrate big!”

For more information about the Freestyle for Hope Bullfighting, click here.

The JDRF One Walk is also Saturday September 23rd at 8:00 a.m. at Liberty Park. You can register to walk and join Fox13’s team here.