Whenever the JDRF community gathers, one thing remains clear: our singular focus on the fight to end type 1 diabetes (T1D) has made an impact. JDRF One Conference, an annual gathering of volunteers, staff, international affiliates and key partners, recently held in Washington, D.C., was an opportunity to take stock of recent progress toward our mission and to recognize the individual and collective achievements of our community.
Recognizing one extraordinary JDRF community
Derek Rapp, JDRF president & CEO, welcomed the group to the nation’s capital with a personal message of gratitude and an overview of the year’s advances in research and advocacy. “Whatever circumstances brought you here, the passion of our people got JDRF started 48 years ago and remains our greatest source of power,” Mr. Rapp said, as he exhorted the gathering to keep up the momentum in our audacious mission to cure, prevent and treat T1D and its complications.
Because of our community’s energy and ability to inspire one another, there were considerable feats of courage and leadership to celebrate. Our JDRF volunteers number in the hundreds of thousands and comprise a formidable army in the fight against T1D. This year, we recognized five JDRF volunteers – Sherry and Larry Benaroya, Sean Doherty, Craig Kuckelman, and Melinda Rose – who have demonstrated exemplary leadership and longstanding commitment to JDRF.
In accepting the Jim Tyree Chairman’s Award, Sean Doherty, issued a call to his fellow volunteers “to double down and dream bigger than we ever have before.” Having served JDRF in multiple JDRF national and local roles, including acting as the first board chair of the JDRF T1D Fund, Mr. Doherty personifies our volunteer spirit.
I’m inspired by seeing volunteers work harder for the JDRF mission than I’ve seen volunteers work for any cause. ~ Sean Doherty
Raising one voice for T1D
JDRF volunteers and staff know their way around Washington. On Thursday, July 12, our advocates took to the Hill to hold 332 individual in person meetings with Members of Congress and their staff. We discussed the need for health insurance for those with pre-existing conditions, affordable insulin, and artificial pancreas Medicare coverage. We shared our gratitude for the two-year renewal of the Special Diabetes Program (SDP) in February of this year—bringing total SDP program funding for T1D research to $2.8 billion.
We couldn’t do this without our champions in Congress. We were honored to have Congressional Diabetes Caucus Co-Chairs Tom Reed (R-NY) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Senate Diabetes Caucus Co-Chair Susan Collins (R-ME) join us on Thursday morning to accept the JDRF Trailblazer award and reiterate their commitment to the fight. Senator Collins told the crowd that she was inspired to form the Senate Diabetes Caucus because of one boy who came to her office in 1997 and said he just wanted one day off from T1D. (Senate Diabetes Caucus Co-Chair Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) was unable to attend.) Thanks to the power of our storytelling and the leaders who make our stories their cause, we wouldn’t be able to celebrate the fact that we are making great strides in advancing our cause.
A down payment on a promise made
So many members of the JDRF community have a personal connection to T1D and the mission. That’s certainly true of newly appointed International Board of Directors Chair Ellen Leake who described a promise she made to her daughter years ago to never stop fighting for a cure.
By making a decision to dedicate so much of my time to JDRF, I felt like I was making a down payment on a cure. ~ Ellen Leake, JDRF Board Chair
Ellen proudly mentioned she saw her down payment paying off when she recently became a grandmother, thanks to advancements in T1D technology that allowed her daughter to have a safe and healthy pregnancy.
Building on the excitement surrounding progress on new therapy and treatment options, Julia Greenstein, Ph.D., VP Research Strategy, and Andrew Rakeman, Ph.D., AVP Research, highlighted JDRF’s Research portfolio and recent advancements. “JDRF is making great strides to bring innovative therapies and treatments to people with T1D,” Dr. Greenstein said, as the presentation touched on progress being made in beta cell replacement, SGLT inhibitors improving glucose control, slowing the progression of T1D in recent onset adults, as well as open protocol artificial pancreas systems.
Do you want to be part of creating a world without T1D? One way you can help JDRF catalyze advances is to participate in clinical trials. Check out our Clinical Trial Connections tool to help you find trials and learn about other ways you can get involved.