August 10, 2015 – JDRF is deeply saddened by the passing of type 1 diabetes (T1D) champion and trusted strategic advisor, Senator Dick Schweiker. He led the fight against diabetes and authored bills creating the National Diabetes Commission and the National Diabetes Advisory Board, and he authored the National Diabetes Act which passed in 1972. These efforts led to increased federal funding for diabetes programs and created a long-term plan to fight diabetes through the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.
Senator Schweiker was an invaluable asset to JDRF and the T1D community. As JDRF was growing in the 1970s, founder Lee Ducat started new chapters around the country. Mrs. Ducat realized that the organization would need more than just private donations to achieve the ambitious goals she had for JDRF. “We needed a major legislative effort,” said Mrs. Ducat. “I was lucky enough to work with Dick Schweiker. He became our advocate. He legislated to set up the National Diabetes Commission and the National Diabetes Advisory Board. He authored and pushed initiatives through Congress to grow the diabetes effort within the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.”
Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1960, Senator Schweiker served in the U.S. Senate from 1968-1980 and as the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services from 1981-1983. He was instrumental in his efforts to increase diabetes funding because of his role as the Ranking Member on the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee.
Although Senator Schweiker initially had no personal connection to diabetes, he led the fight against T1D, and worked to improve the lives of all people with diabetes. In 2003, when his granddaughter was diagnosed with T1D, it became a far more personal mission. We are so grateful for Senator Schweiker’s unrelenting advocacy efforts which can still be felt today.
On behalf of everyone at JDRF and the entire T1D community, we extend our heartfelt condolences to Senator Schweiker’s family, friends, and colleagues.