JDRF’s One Night: The Power of Us Is Unstoppable

One Night, JDRF’s first-of-its-kind virtual event, promised community, entertainment and inspiration for people living with type 1 diabetes (T1D).

With video vignettes, messages from special guests and an exclusive musical performance, the event did not disappoint.

Approximately 18,000 people tuned in for the June 23 broadcast on Facebook and YouTube.

T1D Champion and event host Cristina Alesci, CNN’s Business and Politics Correspondent, kicked off the evening with uplifting remarks.

“Now, these days, we’ve often felt so isolated and divided. Tonight, we’re looking to feel connected and unified. Simply put, we need to feel the Power of Us,” said Alesci, who shared that she was diagnosed as an adult.  

“And that’s what tonight is all about. The power of the type 1 diabetes community in every corner of this nation and around the world,” Alesci added. “Whether you have T1D like me, or you know and love someone with T1D, tonight is for you. Tonight is about you!”

Special Guest Appearances

Throughout the program JDRF leaders and celebrity ambassadors offered messages of hope and support as they acknowledged the strength of the T1D community—especially in the face of what so far, has been a very challenging year.

“When I say ‘The Power of Us’ of course we mean ALL of us,” said Aaron Kowalski, Ph.D., President and CEO of JDRF. “JDRF represents ALL people with T1D and we have to do better…. We know there’s incredible racial injustice in the United States right now. The same is true for people of color with T1D,” he continued, acknowledging the systemic inequities that lead to disproportionately negative health outcomes for people of color, particularly in the Black community.

“That is unacceptable. We have to do better,” he continued. “I can assure you that JDRF is going to lean in, and you will see measurable, tangible steps that we take to ensure that we are diverse and inclusive, and representing everybody with T1D.”

“Now, COVID-19. We will get through this,” Kowalski emphasized. “And I am confident that when we do, JDRF will be a stronger organization. We’ll be more nimble. We’ll engage with more people. We’ll be more global, and we’ll be driving the mission faster than ever.”

Grammy Award-winning music producer and songwriter Jimmy Jam offered, “The past few months and the weeks ahead are unique and maybe challenging at times, but we as a community are powerful and we rise to challenges. And there is no better time to show that we are truly stronger together.”

Other JDRF Celebrity Ambassadors who made appearances include Actress Brooke Shields and Professional Tennis Player JC Aragone.

Hello Sunday, the musical duo of Myla Finks and Chelsea Glover made famous by NBC’s “The Voice,” provided a special performance. Glover lives with T1D and talked about her experiences when she and Finks were the youngest competitors to be featured on “The Voice.”

Actor and Writer Austin Basis also shared his perspective of living with T1D.

“The toughest thing about type 1 diabetes? Is its persistence. Twenty-four hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for the last 35 years, I’ve had to overcome the endless cycle that is managing my diabetes, just so I didn’t let it get in the way of my performance,” said Basis. “But it’s also been the silver lining because it’s given me the perseverance to be the actor, the artist and the man I am today.”

Honoring JDRF’s Everyday Heroes

But these weren’t the only stars of the broadcast. Numerous vignettes shared tales highlighting the tireless efforts of JDRF’s everyday heroes: the advocates, researchers and volunteers who fuel JDRF’s Power of Us.

“We were honored to represent JDRF on Capitol Hill….” said JDRF advocate Natalie Stanback, whose daughter Nadia lives with T1D and was a delegate for Children’s Congress. “Being in D.C. and seeing the JDRF advocacy team on the ground gave me a completely different perspective of the hard work being done on behalf of those with T1D.”

“I always have been a fan of the general philosophy that led to the creation of JDRF,” said JDRF-funded researcher, Kevan Herold, M.D., of Yale School of Medicine. “…By doing outstanding science and by getting creative individuals brought to the table to think about diabetes, that the disease would be not only reversable and preventable, but potentially eliminated completely.”

“Type 1 diabetes has no borders. It doesn’t care what race you are, what social status you have, whether you live in a big city or a small town,” said JDRF volunteer and advocate, Angie Platt, whose experience when her son Jonathan was diagnosed drives her passion for working with newly-diagnosed families. “As the diagnosis rates for T1D continue to grow, it’s up to all of us to ensure that our community continues to connect with and embrace these newly diagnosed families.”

The broadcast included segments about the JDRF and Beyond Type 1 Alliance, several other JDRF supporters and JDRF’s global reach through its international affiliates.

Whether you missed the original, live broadcast or want to relive the memorable moments, watch the full, recorded broadcast below:

By Maggie Barrett