In the Diabetes Trenches: Diabetes Dad: What We “Need”
“We need…”I have heard this statement a million times about the diabetes community. “We need a really good spokesperson;” “we need an ice bucket-type challenge,” and other things. “We need, we need, we need”… not really.
We need to pull the weight ourselves–all of us.
Mary Tyler Moore has given tirelessly throughout her entire career to the message of diabetes through the JDRF. We can argue the fact that she is probably in ‘the top 3 category’ women EVER to be on television. She did countless public service announcements which aired, she did countless trips to JDRF functions and private meetings (I was even privileged to be with her on one of them), she took countless amount of trips to talk to elected officials–never has there been a better public figure than Mary Tyler Moore in ‘speaking diabetes’. The JDRF–no–we in the DOC are lucky to have had her and her messages for so long. Someone worked so tireless, and yet, the message still needs to be heard. Did the world ‘get it’? Is the answer ‘just’ a great spokesperson?
The JDRF and ADA walks and rides are the best in the world. THE BEST. They get countless amounts of people and raise millions–MILLIONS of dollars. Ever go to an event that has a fund-a-grant? Well, you can thank a woman in Seattle named Deniz (JDRF long-time employee) and the Benaroya Family of Seattle for starting that stroke of genius a million years ago. So is the answer ‘just’ doing a new event?
Years ago you never even heard of the JDF (JDRF) and the ADA was mostly a group of physicians and you might have heard of a walk in October. To be honest, even in my professional life at the DRIF, I am glad that these organizations are what they are with the people behind them. I was here in 1992 and let me tell you something: at that time there was no understanding about diabetes. These two organizations set the bar and opened the door for many smaller organizations and educational opportunities–and off we went.
Are we done yet? ABSOLUTELY NOT! But before we are so quick to say that nothing has been done, let me assure you with almost 23 years experience at this that I agree with what Dorothy said in The Wizard of Oz: “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with!”
Many organizations have been created over the years with GREAT focus and if ever there is not a perfect synergy between you and a group, find another; they’re out there. It’s easy just to say, “We need…” and be done with it. I’m here to tell you that “we need” is alive and well and more than that, ‘we need’ is here right now.
If you are not plugged in somewhere, get plugged in somewhere. Yes, we always need new spokespeople and new ideas, but let’s not forget what is here right now. Be the addition to what is here now before re-inventing the wheel–change them up to make them better and add as needed. There is still nothing so exciting as seeing 8,000 people the morning of an event. I know, I see it every year at one of our walk events with Walgreens and the DRI at Miami Marlins Stadium. If you are active in these types of events with JDRF and ADA, you see it too. It is shown ALL OVER the world. Is there ANYTHING like it?
They say there are almost 30 million people out there with diabetes (T1 and T2) and add the multiple of 3 other family members and the number comes to 120 million people have, or have a direct connection to diabetes. And if you are interested in just T1D, that same number is about 8 million. Are there 8 million people in the epicenter of events around the country? Not even close.
Without going into detail, in my immediate family we are directly impacted (or have been) by MS, Cystic Fibrosis, Alzheimer’s, and Autism. The organizations surrounding these events have shared (in part) over the years of the huge success in the diabetes world. They see it more than we do. They cannot even fathom having two humongous organizations like the JDRF and the ADA both surviving and flourishing side-by-side. Not to mention major research centers, like Barbara Davis, Joslin, and the DRI all also being in the mix. Now add CWD, Camps, DECA, The Diabetes Scholars Foundation, and many, many more with specific and different missions. I ask: We need what?
As Dorothy stated, we have in our backyard EVERYTHING we need to succeed, and or be heard. I think we need to figure out how to get those who ‘do nothing’ involved–or just understand what we DO have.
More to do? Absolutely.
But “we need…” must be replaced with “put me to work” because heaven knows we have what is needed. Every entity mentioned just needs more workers/volunteers/donors–nothing is too small, and they will all welcome any and all help you can give. I have said it forever: “Don’t Do Nothing”…. and don’t.
I am a diabetes dad.
This article was originally posted on the Diabetes Dad blog: http://diabetesdad.org