A Mother on a Mission to Cure T1D

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It was 1970, and Lee Ducat’s 9-year-old son, Larry, had just been diagnosed with a disease she had never heard of – juvenile diabetes.

“I remember crying every night, thinking how Larry would have to live a life with diabetes. Finally, I told myself, ‘You better do something Ducat,’” says Lee.

After a doctor told her that with enough money, scientists could cure juvenile diabetes, now known as type 1 diabetes (T1D), Lee put away her tissues. “I said, if money is all you need, we’ll get the money to cure diabetes!”

Lee contacted other Philadelphia families whose children had T1D and invited them to a cocktail party, hoping to raise money for research. That cocktail party on May 21, 1970 launched the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation (now JDRF).

Lee joined forces with other moms and became an unstoppable force. In Washington, they met with Congress, telling stories of children with this devastating disease – pleading for funding. Their work began what is now an ongoing campaign to ensure federal support for T1D research.

Lee’s profound love for her son, Larry, and her determination to help him – and others like him – led her to do amazing work that benefits millions of families worldwide today.

Sadly, Larry passed in 2020, but his impact is everlasting. He is survived by two daughters and four grandchildren who continue Larry’s legacy. And Lee is still hoping and fighting for a cure.

Since that fateful cocktail party, and with the support of our generous donors, JDRF has become a global organization – raising more than $2 billion to fund research – leading to better treatments and longer life expectancies.

If you’re interested in supporting life-changing research through a legacy gift, please request your free copy of Your Will to Give.