PORTLAND — Approximately 1,000 walkers, many clad in colorful T-shirts bearing the name of a child with juvenile diabetes, gathered at Payson Park today for the 14th annual Walk to Cure Diabetes.

With a goal of raising $200,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDFR), participants heard from Sen. Susan Collins before embarking on a stroll around the Back Cove and returning to Payson Park for a barbecue, music, dancing, balloons, face-painting and raising awareness about the autoimmune disease.

“This disease is devastating for so many families,” said Collins, co-chair of the Senate Diabetes Caucus since its 1997 inception.  “It is meeting and getting to know the children that have it that has motivated me. They look like any other child and yet they’re coping with such a serious disease.”