Friday, May 10, 2013

JDRF Promise Ball showed delicate balance of life with diabetes

“Both children and adults like me who live with type 1 diabetes need to be mathematicians, physicians, personal trainers and dieticians all rolled into one. We need to be constantly factoring and adjusting, making frequent finger sticks to check blood sugars, and giving ourselves multiple daily insulin injections just to stay alive.”

- JDRF International Chairman Mary Tyler Moore

Although I have worked with JDRF for several years, attending the JDRF Promise Ball last weekend really heightened my awareness of just how difficult it is to live with type 1 diabetes. For these people, many of them children, staying healthy means maintaining a difficult and fragile balance – almost like working with glass.

Glass sculptures played a big role in this year’s Promise Ball, in addition to the fun Beatles theme. A stunning glass sculpture by glass artist Andy Paiko was specially designed for the live auction at the Ball to raise money for diabetes research.

Titled “Ladder to Light,” the sculpture conveyed the ups and downs of type 1 diabetes as voiced by the diabetes community. Diabetics, their families and their friends shared powerful words about diabetes with Paiko, who translated the emotions into glass. According to Andy, the words told him of darkness, but also of personal growth and the abundant strength that comes from managing diabetes.

Andy’s piece was beautiful and incredibly moving. But it was another glass sculpture that truly took my breath away.

As this year’s JDRF honoree, along with my company, UnitedHealthcare, I was humbled when to my surprise I was presented with a glass sculpture of my own, inspired by Andy’s work and created by diabetic children involved with JDRF. It turns out that the kids had spent an afternoon at East Falls Glassworks to learn about working with glass and worked together to make the sculpture for me.

The glass sculpture was a beautiful way to represent the delicate balance of life with diabetes, and I’m honored that the kids took the time to create the sculpture for me.

The hopeful note that was captured in both glass sculptures reminded me of just how much these people are relying on scientific research to help them live healthier lives. And despite the evening’s celebration of the scientific advances into the causes, treatment and possible cures for diabetes that were made in 2012 with the support of JDRF, there is still much work ahead of us. We’ve got to keep on going, until we find a cure!

JDRF ambassaors present Sue Schick with "balance of life" scupture at 2013 Promise Ball

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