Having lived with diabetes for more than 40 years, Sarah Katharine Skoulund decided to make a legacy gift to JDRF to ensure another child might be saved from battling type 1 diabetes (T1D) as she did. “While she generally didn’t talk about her diabetes with others,” says Neelie Kruse, Sarah’s older sister, “she knew this gift given upon her death would further research that someday could help another child.”
Diagnosed when she was nine years old after a bicycle fall where she blacked out, her mother who was a nurse and father who was a pharmacist were determined to make sure Sarah got the best of care. Her younger sister Margaret Merz remembers a pool being built in the yard for exercise, a strict meal schedule and her father’s nightly wake up calls to check on Sarah. While things were different in the house after Sarah’s diagnosis, she said, her mother always told her she would “try and keep things normal and that her extra attention to Sarah’s diabetes, didn’t mean she loved the sisters any less.”
When she was in her 20’s, Sarah became one of the earliest patients to get a pancreas and kidney transplant at the University of Wisconsin; a research protocol that over the years has been funded by JDRF. As a result, she was able to stop insulin shots in her remaining years but not avoid the life-threatening complications of diabetes.
Sarah worked at GE Capital as a finance manager and, in her spare time, often helped at Cary Travel, Neelie’s travel agency. Sarah lived with her sister Neelie’s family who remembered her as the best partner and first to be picked by family members for board games. While considered “stubborn” by her siblings, they also believed that stubbornness helped her stay active and cope with her diabetes until she died in July 2019.
A skilled bridge player, ardent Cubs fan and avid traveler, Sarah visited every continent except Antarctica, a trip she planned before her untimely death. Her sister Neelie and husband Neils Kruse made the trip and left behind mementoes of her at Port Charcoal, Antarctica. “In a way, she got there too,” said Neelie.
Sarah’s name will be remembered in the JDRF BETA Society membership and her exceptional bequest to JDRF will be used to fund the organization’s ongoing research program. If you would like more information about the JDRF Beta Society, please contact: Heather Chamberlain by email at email@example.com or phone at 312-447-7958
Article written by Joan Beaubaire