For decades, Frances Wheeler of Winston-Salem has focused on building JDRF’s Grassroots Advocacy program.
Advocacy has been at the heart of JDRF’s vision of a world without type 1 diabetes since 1997, when Congress established the Special Diabetes Program (SDP) to fund T1D research.
From the moment the SDP—which has funded nearly $3.5 billion in T1D research to date—was created, Frances understood that it would be a gamechanger! So she began attending JDRF events big and small, recruiting local Advocates to reach out to U.S. Senators and Representatives, encouraging them to continue supporting diabetes research.
Frances was instrumental in creating the Piedmont Triad’s Senator Kay Hagan T1D Awareness and Advocacy Award, which was presented at the recent Hope Gala to Erskine Bowles, who—along with then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich—created the SDP when he was President Bill Clinton’s Chief of Staff.
Recently, the JDRF Advocacy Team recognized Frances’ tremendous dedication by presenting her with the Perseverance & Grit Award, an honor that celebrates leaders who exemplify the core values of a type 1 diabetes changemaker; leaders who are resolute, laser-focused, and determined; leaders with the passion, resilience, initiative, and tenacity it takes to prevail.
When presenting the award, JDRF’s National Grassroots Leadership Team Chair Jennie Costner praised Frances: “You are such a sharply focused, rock-solid leader! Always incredibly organized, detail-oriented, and forward-thinking—no matter what we throw at you! You are always at-the-ready!”
Congratulations, Frances! You not just “rock solid,” as Jennie said—you’re also a true rock star in the T1D community!