In these final weeks leading up to the end of the fiscal year and as I prepare to head to Chicago to present at the JDRF International Conference, I am reflecting on the power and potential of this moment, as well as some of the progress we have made. Before we consider our future, it is only appropriate that we recognize where we have been and that we name and consider some of the impact all of you have made as a team of dedicated volunteers.
Our supporters have contributed more than $2B to type 1 diabetes (T1D) research since JDRF was founded. Last September, the T1D community reached a major breakthrough with the FDA’s approval of the Medtronic hybrid closed loop system. The system is the first ever approved to automate the dosing of insulin to reduce high blood sugar levels. For some, this may be considered a road to a “cure” and for all another potential opportunity for stronger lives.
Last fall, some 20,000 people walked together to treat, prevent and cure type 1 diabetes resulting in nearly 1 million dollars for research and support. Music played, children laughed and once again a community showed its’ might at both our St. Louis and St. Charles locations.
JDRF brought a new challenge for me when in October 2016, alongside Bill Timmons, Chapter Board President and ride coach, Lisa Van Fleet, Sybil Bogardus and Marie McMahon. I joined the team in Death Valley for my first Ride for A Cure. I often think about the collective spirit of the 325 riders at Death Valley as we traversed the stark, harsh elements of this unforgiving terrain. #Ihatewind Still though, one day of fighting the elements in this place is no comparison to a lifetime of fighting Type One Diabetes and so I gladly accept the trial and look forward to riding again this year in Amelia Island this time.
In November, we welcomed the Springfield region into our chapter. As I get to know the families and leaders in this area, I am impressed by their balance of passion and sense of urgency. Though they have no staff person in town any longer, Alyssa and Madi Phillips spearheaded our efforts with corporate partner Hy-Vee and thanks to Tara Leonardt and her team we will still be hosting a community One Walk in Spring 2018! Clearly this team understands what it takes to get things done.
In January, at our Type One Nation Summit about 400 people gathered at the St. Charles Convention Center to engage with leading experts in research, technology, nutrition, and personal well-being. Attacking T1D head on with research and in this case with information and a strong community is what we do best and this day was a great one for the families who came to learn but left too with friends and mentors.
Also in January, we announced our 2017 Gala Raffle, a brand new Camry courtesy of Jay Wolfe Toyota of West County. By May our supporters bought 2,000 tickets and raised more than $30,000 for JDRF. Joan McDowell was the winner of the grand prize drawing and is enjoying her new car. Congratulations Joan and thanks to Johnnie Andrawos for the donated vehicle and to everyone for participating!
In April Brent Jackson and Adam Baer led our runners at the Go! St. Louis marathon. Shannon Smyka crossed the finish line as the top fundraiser for all charities at the event. Well done team.
On May 6, 2017, more than 350 guests gathered at Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch to honor heroes for the cure. The Budke Family chaired the Gala this year and they were truly superheroes for our mission. We were thrilled to welcome back previous sponsors such as Edward Jones, Cushman Wakefield, Monsanto and KPMG while also welcoming new sponsors Bank of America & US Trust, Graybar, Walgreens and People’s National Bank. And if you enjoyed the streamlined and fun event this year, just wait till you see what is in store for next year. The bar continues to rise.
Here in June we still have our golf tournament to enjoy, again led by dedicated volunteers including Monte White, at the helm. Then at the end of this month, we will gather as a family at our annual meeting to reflect more on progress and to look to a future wrought with opportunity and paved with hard-work from great people. This year we will be hosted at Kurowski Shultz law firm and by longtime supporter and new JDRF International Finance Committee Member, John Kurowski. John has served as a mentor and a friend as I have navigated this new role and we are excited that he will chair our One Walk in the fall.
Investing in a future takes vision and resources. I want to thank JDRF CEO Derek Rapp for the leadership he has provided our organization and the mentorship he provides me. Derek’s focus on making this the best place possible to work is both authentic and a real part of why we get better every day.
My first year has moved swiftly. I can only hope I have contributed in a positive way, however small, to the experience you all have with this community. I know all of you have embraced me and taught me. And you have helped me focus on a path that serves this cause in even greater ways and does so in an inclusive, forward thinking and person centered manner. There is much work to be done but I am energized by progress, community spirit and focus on impact.
This year our chapter adopted some Operating Principles: Think, Consider, Communicate and Do. Think – about every factor involved in the decisions we make and the actions we take. Consider – How each person in our universe is affected by those actions. Communicate – To every stakeholder in the dynamic. And do…the next right thing. We try hard to live up to these principles each day. We appreciate your feedback as we learn.
Thank you for supporting JDRF. Thank you for your unwavering belief in the potential of our collective effort. And thank you for your partnership in pursuit of our shared vision of Type None. The need for your courage and conviction has never been greater.
Yours in service,