Labor Day and Diabetes—-DO You Know the INCREDIBLE Connection?

DRI building construction flagHappy Labor Day.  Or as I like to say ‘happy-and-thanks-to-an-incredible-group-of-people-who-keep-hope-for-a-cure-alive-in-my-eyes-day”.

You see, the idea of Labor Day becoming a legal holiday in the 1880’s to honor the Central Labor Union of New York and New Jersey; which would ‘morph’ into the many divisions of what we now call the AFL-CIO.  It was ‘this celebration of labor’ that became the national holiday we now know as Labor Day.  What does that have to do with diabetes?

A division of that group of the AFL-CIO, (now the) North America’s Building Trades Unions had a connection to a Doctor and a group of families who all started an organization called the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation (DRIF).  The DRIF’s philosophy was to build a building, a center, where the best minds in the world could come to one place with all phases of research in one building (basic, preclinical, and clinical) so the research could happen all-inclusive, like the Manhattan Project.

What was missing for the DRIF, was that all important building.  Through an arrangement with the building trades, an agreement was reached that not only would they build it, they would collect the money needed to do so, and when completed–donate the entire project to the University of Miami, where it would be incorporated into academia, which was needed to receive competitive grants.

The result of those discussion became the Blueprint for Cure which is the banner name for two crucial initiatives; DADs (Dollars Against Diabetes) and the Labor of Love (LOL) Weekend.  These two initiatives are made up of over 70 events which were run by members of the North American Building Trades Unions to collect money in June (Dad, Father’s Day…get it…cute huh) and a major event weekend each year, all to build this new building focused on curing a diabetes.

How did it all work out?

Well if you look at the picture above you will see an American flag at the top of the building under construction.  Upon completion two things happened; the group of parents offered the friends at the North America’s Building Trades Unions the naming of the building to which their response was, “No thank you.  Just place a plaque at the entrance of the doorway that reads, Built by the hearts and hands of our nation’s building and construction trade union members, whose generosity and craftsmanship knows no bounds.”  It is on the wall as you enter the building.


The second thing that happened was knowing, as we all know too well, the work towards finding a cure is a hugely labor-some endeavor, the same group who raised the money to build the DRI, continues each year to raise funds to help fund the research that occurs in the building they built.  Some forty years and 50+ million dollars thus far; they have become (pun intended) the absolute cornerstone of the DRI’s work.  The DRI could not exist were it not for private donations in addition to the many wonderful grants they receive. If these wonderful men and women of the building trades are the backbone of the building industry in this country, it is crucial to understand that they remain the heart and soul of the incredible efforts in finding a cure for diabetes.

So while Labor Day surely is a wonderful time to celebrate the worker in America, it is also a time for us in the diabetes community to be reminded that an 87,000′ building of hope for all of us stands because of these hands and hearts of the North America’s Building Trades Unions.

God Bless each and every one of them.

I am a diabetes dad.

Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.


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