Volunteer Spotlight – Jennifer French and Family


French1Jennifer French and her husband Chris, together with their three sons, are one energetic family. They love to have fun and they love to laugh. Their sense of humor is contagious. It’s also what helps them muscle through the tough times. However, Jennifer says, “life wasn’t so funny the day T1D came into our family.” In February of 2010, the French’s five-year-old son Wyatt began exhibiting signs of type 1 diabetes (T1D): unquenchable thirst, frequent urination and unexplained weight loss. They went to the doctor and the diagnosis was confirmed. “Life would never be the same for us. For any of us,” says Jennifer.

Soon after returning home from the hospital, Wyatt received a Bag of Hope from JDRF. The resources and tools contained inside were a great comfort to the entire family. They still cherish Rufus, the Bear with Diabetes. “JDRF has been there for us since day one. We received calls from volunteers at JDRF who were just reaching out to check up on us,” says Jennifer.

A few months after Wyatt’s diagnosis, a friend heard that my favorite cover band, Super Diamond, was playing at Wente Vineyard for a JDRF event called Summer Classic. It sounded like a fantastic way for us to have fun and help to find a cure. We rolled into the event with 30 people and were made to feel so welcomed. Looking back, that night literally changed my life. – Jennifer French

The French family has been involved with Summer Classic ever since their first attendance in 2010. Jennifer is a high-spirited committee member and chairs the silent auction each year. In 2012, the family served as Fund A Cure speakers, sharing their story and inspiring significant contributions in direct support of T1D research. “When I think of the Frenches, I think of community,” says Frank Bitonte, Development Manager at JDRF Bay Area. “Jen & Chris are incredibly generous people not just in a monetary sense, but more importantly with their time. When they get behind a cause and there are many they support, their entire community follows suit. To be able to inspire this kind of chain reaction is truly amazing.”

Wyatt French - ready for "Flocking"
Wyatt French – ready for “Flocking”

The French sense of humor is back with a vengeance. This year, they decided to try something new to celebrate National Diabetes Awareness Month in November. “Get The Flock Out of Here” was Wyatt’s idea. On November 1, National T1Day, he took a pack of blue flamingos, a yard sign, and a collection envelope to initiate the “Flocking.” The envelope had information about T1D and let the recipient know why finding a cure is so important. In order to get the Flock out of their yard, they needed to put at least $20 into the envelope, and fill out a card with the name and address of the next person to be “Flocked,” and so on. “Wyatt is the Little Flocker and I am the Mother Flocker,” Jennifer says with a smile.

In all seriousness, the French family is laser-focused on helping JDRF find a cure for T1D and they know that raising funds is crucial. They have participated in the JDRF Walk, they help promote sneaker sales at Marshalls, and they even sell coffee outside of Wyatt’s school during morning drop-off. Now thriving in middle school, Wyatt says, “My fingers hurt from testing. I don’t like carrying my kit everywhere. I want a cure so that little kids don’t have to go through what I go through.” The Frenches will not give up until that day comes.