Maurice Hertzfeld’s Dream Lives On

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“I’d like to share a personal dream. A dream that one day children will be told, ‘like Polio, there once was a disease called diabetes. With your help, that dream may become a reality.” – Maurice Hertzfeld, testifying at the 1975 National Commission on Diabetes

Rob Hertzfeld was 14 years old when he was diagnosed with T1D in 1972. Most people living with T1D only lived to be 40 years old back then. Imagine learning your child has a disease that will change his life, and yours, forever.

Maurice Hertzfeld with son, Rob

Rob spent the next two weeks in the hospital learning how to give himself injections and control his disease. Life after that meant daily urine tests, hoping the test strip wouldn’t change color, that he wasn’t “spilling sugar.” His parents, Gladys and Maurice, were determined to make sure their son would live a long and healthy life. They devoted themselves to finding the cause and cure.

Gladys mentored recently diagnosed families. Knowledge about T1D was limited, and in Rob’s case, doctors avoided discussing complications such as blindness and circulatory problems.

Maurice Hertzfeld with first lady, Rosalyn Carter, and other founding members of JDRF

Maurice, a real estate developer in Philadelphia, became a founding board member of JDRF (then JDF) while Rob was still in the hospital. He served as chairman in its early years and commissioned a groundbreaking study to document the number of people living with diabetes, and the effect on the country. It would serve as the basis for federal legislation to combat the disease and find a cure.

But the Hertzfeld’s commitment to a world without T1D didn’t stop there. Their generous contributions spanned over five decades and their desire to greatly impact progress led them to create a gift to JDRF in their wills.

Maurice passed in 2019, but his spirit lives on. This year, Rob decided to create a gift of his own to JDRF through his retirement assets. Having lived with T1D for 48 years, he wants all people of all socioeconomic levels to have access to lifechanging therapies, so they may also have a long and healthy life.

Rob is 62 today. Like his parents, he dreams of a world without T1D.

“I’ve been very fortunate in my life. I have money and insurance to deal with the everyday struggle of living with T1D. I can’t imagine what it must be like to worry about those things. I want to make sure that everyone has access to the supplies and care they need and deserve.”

As we mark our 50th year, we celebrate the power of generous donors like the Hertzfelds, who have devoted their lives to helping others – improving the world through their volunteerism, advocacy and philanthropic commitment.