Happy Labor Day—How a “Single-Minded-Focus-for-a-Cure” Building Came to Be.

DADs Day SnoopyI have never looked at Labor Day as the end of something.   I have always looked at it as the beginning.  perhaps when I was a younger grammar-school child, I was not such a big fan but I really loved my high school and college years and Labor Day always meant those exciting days were around the corner.

As I grew older and earned my AFL-CIO Union cards for acting; Labor Day was a reminder to me that I had earned something that so many in my field wanted; my Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG/movie), AFTRA (TV), and Equity (Stage) cards that meant so much to me and my career.

Proudly a Union member, I relished in the Labor Day activities.  Never did I think that the AFL-CIO would play such a major role in the one dream I have been in pursuit for the longest, a cure for my kids.

The Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO is made up of men and women in the various trades around the Unites States…..in essence; they built and build America with value on display every day.   In 1994 a dream was realized.  These same men and women had joined forces with a small group of parents who believed that building a research center focused on curing diabetes would be necessary to advance the dial on curing the disease once and for all.  That building was the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami

For almost 30 years, the D.A.D.s (Dollars Against Diabetes) Events and the LOL (Labor of Love) Golf Tournament have made up the BCTD’s bBueprint for Cure program benefitting the DRI.  Snoopy, in a hard hat, has been the representation for DAD’s Day Events for almost 15 years.   

Once the  money was collected, the first brick was laid.  And then another, and another, and up went an 87,000 sq. ft. building that would be housed with the most collaborative and brightest in the diabetes research world.  The beacon was lit and virtually every diabetes organization helps fund the crucial work because the advancements continue.

One brick at a time was placed until completion and the building opened its doors.  One brick at a time was placed offering the hope and dreams of so many who wait for a cure.  Truly the recent advances being worked on inside this building have given me a hope like I have never had before.  It is the hope inside me that could have only been given because those doors were opened in 1994. 

That Union tradition under the leadership of Sean McGarvey as President and Brent Booker as Secretary-Treasurer, along with their membership across this great nation; continues to raise over a million dollars annually for the DRI to achieve the one single-minded goal; a cure.

I have the honor and privilege to serve as the liaison with the Foundation and these wonderful people.  I have been fortunate to travel the country to speak at events and share with them the research updates.  I have seen the look in their eyes when they tell me that a member has a newly diagnosed child.  I have cried with them.  I have shared with them.  I have enjoyed their incredible efforts with over 60 different events happening around the United States annually.  I hear in the voices of Rob Severn and Bobby Crider, along with their colleagues, the importance of still trying to ‘grow’ these events each year.

They DO NOT have to this; the BCTD does not have to help find a cure for diabetes. 

It is enough to try to employ our returning veterans and better train them with skills they can utilize in the work force.  It is enough to look after legislation that will impact their members.  It is enough to constantly look to increase the employment of members each and every day. 

But they do.  For you, your children, and mine.

To those living with diabetes and/or having a loved one with diabetes I ask you to stop, this Labor Day, and realize that one of the leading diabetes research centers in the world was built by a group of men and women who care and still care to this very day.  It is because of them we will walk the road to a cure; and we will get there——“one brick at a time.”

Happy Labor Day.

I am a diabetes dad.

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

Incredible People; A Bucket; Some Change;…..$45 Million Dollars Later……

BCTD Snoopy BadgeAs I have stated before, the highlight of my job is meeting people from all over who dedicate themselves to making sure one day diabetes is gone forever.  Probably the single largest contributor to this effort is a group made up of men and women of the Building and Construction Trades Department (the BCTD) of the AFL-CIO.

Being a member of the AFL-CIO myself from my entertainment days (Actors Equity Association and SAG-Aftra), I kept up my union dues all of these years because I am proud to be a member of these two great unions.  My Brother and Sister Union Members of the BCTD captured my heart for a reason that is close to me and should be to you as well.

I’m presently at the 2013 Building Trades Legislative Conference in Washington DC.  It is a chance to say thank you for the wonderful work these people have done and continue to do.  If you look at the picture you will see my conference badge and attached to it is a button with Snoopy on it.  D.A.D.s Day stands for Dollars Against Diabetes and years ago these wonderful union members, and their associates, started a movement that has changed the world.

Long ago, when asked if they could help in the cause of the Diabetes Research Institute, they said we will do one better–we’lll build the building for you and raise the money ourselves.  So that wonderful 87,000 sq. ft. building that has now become the beacon of hope for a diabetes cure worldwide was all started and completed by the BCTD.

Starting with collection buckets and standing on street corners asking for donations every Father’s Day (hence the D.A.D.–get it?) continued to grow each year.  Bigger and bigger each and every year.

When informed that the building should be named in their honor, the BCTD declined, and stated humbly; “Just place a plaque that states this was built by the hearts and hands of America…”  Because that is who they are.

After the building was finished the work of the BCTD was just beginning.  The BCTD felt that building the DRI was a huge step forward, but funding should continue until a cure is found. So the bucket collections morphed into the addition of other events, and now over 70 (golf tournaments, poker runs, bowling tournaments, softball tournaments, and some still do the very same bucket collections that started it all) are held around the United States annually with the biggest being the incredible Labor of Love Golf Tournament held each spring.  These initiatives amount to over $1,000,000 each year with a total surpassing $45 million dollars thus far.  

So for this week I will meet many friends of the DRI; my union colleagues of the BCTD.  I will listen to their President Sean McGarvey and Brent Booker their Secretary-Treasurer, who will honor those top event organizers from around the country and reaffirm their dedication to helping us find a cure.  I will listen to their members, and we will discuss more ways to help those with diabetes. 

What an honor to know such wonderful people.  And this week people from all around the United States will be joining together to discuss many business agendas and yet, they have a piece of their extremely busy schedules carved out to do something to help in the same battles you and I fight each day; and to many of them, they fight too.

They are leaders in the funding for a cure for diabetes…..of course they are….because their hands and hearts are in it every day. 

To the people who wait for a cure for diabetes, the incredibly dedicated people of the BCTD have their value on display; every day!

And we thank them.

I am a Diabetes dad.

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