NEWSBREAK: No One was Better for Diabetes Causes than Mary….RIP

MaryI wish I could say I was a friend of Mary Tyler Moore’s, she surely made you feel that way.  There was a time when she, or her beloved husband Robert, and I would pass and a ‘hello’ was stated.  We knew of each other in the same battle.  She wrote a wonderful inscription in her book when she sent it to me to thank me on a specific project we worked on together and I will cherish it forever.

She THANKED me. Really?  Like I could ever be on par with what she had done over the years.  We worked together on fundraising, Washington DC advocating, and when it came to ANYTHING diabetes… assured Mary was there in full force……how lucky was I to have just a little piece of life with this incredible woman.

It’s not often one gets to work with an icon, with a person who has her character-genetic pool somewhere in almost every comedic character to appear on TV—she was not the best—she was the best of the best and she did it—-while battling diabetes.

I have stated it before, and will always feel the same, no one in the celebrity world came close to do for the world of diabetes than what Mary Tyler Moore accomplished with JDRF.  Her efforts were tireless over the years.  She would attend events, meet with elected officials, testify before congress and yet, it was when she met those who lived like her….with diabetes, that I will remember most.  The time she took to speak to them and relate to them, to tell them they would be okay…..that is the Mary I will remember most.

Every organization under the sun wishes they had a spokesperson the caliber of Mary Tyler Moore.  Her connection with JDRF (and what was then JDF) was, and is, legendary.  She loved the JDRF and the people involved with the organization.  How fortunate they are, and were, to have Mary as part of their family.   My heart goes out to the many who worked with her at the JDRF, especially Karen Brownlee, who worked with Mary for years as the Liaison between the JDRF and Mary’s ‘people’.

Mary had but one goal when it came to diabetes….to bring to the attention of the world the battle of diabetes and how important it is to one day cure it.  How important it is to handle it.  Perhaps if she meant something to you, you can give a donation to JDRF in her memory (or to YOUR favorite organization). Mary would want it done that way.  I did.  It’s the least I could do for the woman who taught me to fight diabetes with as much fierceness as possible and at the same time; try to turn the world on with a smile…..which no one did better than Mary Tyler Moore

Rest in Peace friend, and thank you.
I am a DiabetesDad.
Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’

We ‘Need’……REALLY????…….uhm……Come Back from Over the Rainbow

ozI have heard this statement a million times.  “We need…..”  In reference to 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……….uhm……..not really.

We need to pull the weight ourselves……..all of us.

Mary Tyler Moore has given tirelessly of 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 did a 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 so tireless, and yet, the message still needs to be heard.  Did the world ‘get it’?   So 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 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 because I was here in 1992……..and let me tell you something….at THAT time there REALLY 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.

A difference between T1 and T2???????…….back when??????……seriously?????……people never even heard of the disease much less discussions about better understanding.

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 at this at full speed 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 back yard. 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 to just 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 now.  Add to all of this the DOC, we have one helluva powerhouse.

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-event with Walgreens and the DRI at Miami Marlins Stadium.  If you are active in these type of events with JDRF and ADA—you see it too.  It is shown ALL OVER the world…..Is there ANYTHING like it…….really?

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 with/with-direct-connections…….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 even 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.  We need…………what…….I ask?

So what am I saying?  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…..either that 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……there is nothing 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.
Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.

Diabetes Jeopardy Answer #25 for D-Month: No one has Been a Better, or Longer Tenured Spokesperson for Diabetes, than this Woman who Turned the World On with Her Smile

Mary tYler Moore…..and the answer is, who is Mary Tyler Moore.

We can argue the point whether or not Ms. Moore is the greatest TV and/or Female TV personality of all time; but she stands alone when it comes to spokesperson in the world of diabetes.  I can tell you from meeting her many times and actually spending a few hours with her when she joined me in a ‘an ask’ from a major donor and the announcement that followed when I was with the JDRF; that she was always and in all ways 1000% focused on her mission with the JDF (JDRF) and with diabetes causes (among others).

One must remember that this woman was/is sought after by every form of media and every talk show at any given time.  And when it came to diabetes; the amount of time she gave, when asked, was remarkable.  In many cases when you say diabetes to someone outside the diabetes community, it is not uncommon to hear, “Oh the one that Mary Tyler Moore” is active in.

And how; ‘yes’ she is.

Despite dealing with T1D herself, Ms. Moore threw herself completely into a role that would lift the visibility of diabetes in this world as none other before or since.  From a public face, to presenting high honors, to speaking at events, to leading the charge in Washington D.C. and even being involved with ‘asks’ for money from private donors, Mary Tyler Moore set the bar for celebrity involvement in an organization; and how fortunate are all of us in this diabetes community?

Changing the world with that million dollar smile, was only the beginning.

Below is just a brief segment from Mary’s Bio—click this link to read so much more from her BIO at IMDB
After trying her hand at movies for a few years, Moore decided, a bit reluctantly, to return to TV, but on her terms. The result was “Mary Tyler Moore” (1970), which was produced by MTM Enterprises, a company she had formed with Tinker, and which later went on to produce scores of other television programs. Moore starred as “Mary Richards”, who moves to Minneapolis/St. Paul on the heels of a failed relationship. Mary finds work at the news room of WJM-TV, whose news program is the lowest-rated in the city, and establishes fast friendships with her colleagues and her neighbors. The show was a commercial and critical success and for years was a fixture of CBS television’s unbeatable Saturday night line-up. Moore and Tinker were determined from the start to make the show a cut above the average, and it certainly was – instead of going for a barrage of gags, the humor took longer to develop, and arose out of the interaction between the characters in more realistic situations. It was also one of the earliest TV portrayals of a woman who was happy and successful on her own rather than simply being a man’s wife. “Mary Tyler Moore” (1970) is generally included amongst the finest television programs ever produced in America.


For Diabetes Awareness Month:
This month, I will be highlighting someone in the diabetes community.  They may be people you know, or might not know, but they give of themselves to make this world, our world, with diabetes a special place.   I will not get to everyone this month, but it is my hope that perhaps you can be introduced to some of those you may not know.

I’m certainly not the definitive on who should be included….you are.  If you think I should include someone, shoot me an email at and I will do what I can to include that person as well.  Welcome to diabetes awareness month.

I am a diabetes dad.

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

A TV Icon, in Her Darkest Time…..Teaches Us All Lesson

Valerie Harper MagI was, and still am a huge fan of the Mary Tyler Moore Show.  I honestly believe that I saw every episode at least 3 times among the original air dates (1970-1977), reruns, and you tube.

Probably more than any other celebrity, Ms. Moore has made no secret of her T1 Diabetes and her devotion to her diabetes charity, JDRF.  She is a hero in every sense and shape of the word.

Being such a fan of the show, it was a huge thrill the times I met with her and worked with her while at the JDF.  Ms. Moore is (and I admit the point could be discussed)  probably in the top 3 or 5 television icons of all time.  So to have met her was as if the show I adored watching; now had an instant, real, live, connection.

One of my favorite characters in the show was always Rhoda Morgenstern.  Her mix of savvy, shoot-from-the-hip-attitude, New York personality, and fabulous great looks made her an instant favorite for me.

I was at the supermarket yesterday and stopped in my tracks when I saw People Magazine’s front cover.

My heart sank.  “What??!!”

I’ve read the article three times and as much as it broke my heart, Ms.Harper has many things to teach us.  I suggest everyone get a copy of  People Magazine and read this article because no matter what Valerie Harper is facing, she, just as our beloved Rhoda, calls it like it is; and also has a few things to say before her life ends.  Even though her disease has NOTHING to do with diabetes; her advice was very real for me as a father who lives in this diabetes world. 

–Don’t let your fear today rob you of a fun life.
–If you’re not here now, where the hell are you?
–My mom always used to say, “If you can learn from it, than do.  If not, forget about it.  That was yesterday.”
–Life is amazing.  Live it to the fullest.  Stay as long as you can.

WOW!  No words could be truer spoken. My thanks to Ms. Harper, her family, and Johnny Dodd of People Magazine for sharing this story. 

Whether diabetes is in your world or not; this is an article that will touch your very soul.  But to the diabetes community, I share the points from TV’s ‘every woman’ as they should be very valuable to all of us.

Valerie Harper states of her relationship with our diabetes hero, Ms. Moore; “I was so comfortable with Mary”; as we are with you Ms. Harper, even in your darkest time—-you found the time to make us comfortable.  May you have peace during this time and thank  you for the reminder what truly is important.

I am a diabetes dad.

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

JDRF, and The World, Loses a POWERHOUSE. A Tribute.

Carol and Jim IrwinWhen I was a staff person at what was then called the JDF (didn’t know that did you?) I was at a meeting and the woman at the microphone said with that incredible smile; “Lock the doors because no one is getting out until they commit to this.”

That woman was Dame Carol Lurie.  Last night, quietly in her sleep I am informed, the world lost probably the most influential person in making what the JDRF has become to the world today.  She would dispute that, of course, and give the credit elsewhere.

She was strong and the many times I have referred to her and Lee Ducat when I lecture, it is always to show the power of what two moms could do in a world, where they believed; that diabetes just would not do.

I left the JDF, she stayed.  I went to the DRI and it was years later that my son was also diagnosed when I opened  my mail to a note that simply said that although we are on separate paths, our goals would always be the same; our kids.  And I’ll never forget how she signed it, “…see you at the finish line.—C.L.”

She and her husband, Erwin (who also passed a while back), were powerhouses in this world of diabetes.  Long before the internet, social media, and electronic outreach; Carol somehow found a way to connect the corners of the earth as one diabetes voice.  And the voices rose.  The voices were heard.  And changes happened.

So when you think that nothing can get done or be done in this world anymore; think of Dame Carol Lurie–or ‘just-a-mom’ Carol Lurie as she would say.  A mom who just believed that in this world, under her watch, diabetes will just not do.

It is my thought that she and Erwin are in black tie & gown behind the pearly gates dancing together and half way through the evening, she may very well speak to all of the angels and say, “Close those gates and no one leaves until we figure out a way to significantly help those who I have left behind.”  …..and her legacy will continue on.

See you at the finish line my friend.

I am a diabetes dad.

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

T.G.I.F. (Thanking Great Individuals Forever) Who Created THAT Walk?????

It was originally called the Walk for the Cure until a cancer fundraising organization sent a letter to change the name.   To the Foundation’s credit they thought changing the name was a better move than using donation money to fight the request resulting in what is now called the Walk to Cure Diabetes (a blessing in disguise). 

In the early 90’s a group of chapters were gathered in a room and told that they would be the members of a new national program that could very well define the future of the organization known (at that time) as JDF (now JDRF). 

It was the most exciting, incredible, costly, time-consuming, exhilarating, program one could ever imagine.  There really was only one hugely successful ‘walkathon’ at that time and that was the March of Dimes.  Other organization did walks but nothing could come close to the March of Dimes. 

We huddled in meetings and discuss the challenges like, “we can never compete with the ADA (American Diabetes Association), as no one even knows who the JDF even is, who would come to a JDF Walk?”  Yes, there was such a time.

We were assured that if we “did the program” to the letter, it would work.  Over time the income would even out the costs. It did.  It did not matter how many other different organizational walks there were out there, success was predicated upon ‘doing the program’ and doing the program ‘to the letter’. 

In future years, where there were no chapters, walk managers were put in place.   Walk Managers would become Chapter Directors.  The program was not only successful, it is probably the singe-most-reason JDRF ended up on the map as strong as it did spreading across the country in a grass-roots effort like no other before or since.  The family teams became as strong as the corporate teams, WHICH HAD NEVER HAPPENED IN A WALK OF THIS MAGNITUDE, EVER! 

The army of volunteers was enormous, JDF would never look back. 

This year it is expected that 900,000 people will walk at over 150 different walk sites and will add to the over 1 billion dollars raised thus far as cited here.

What people do not understand today is how hard it was in the beginning to accomplish the task at hand. I know because I was there as one of those original Chapter Directors in the early nineties.

The results were incredible and it grew the organization and allowed for funding to organizations actually doing the research like the cure focused Diabetes Research Institute, The Edmonton Protocol, and many, many more.

JDRF would grow that grass-roots army of volunteers into government relations, bike rides and letter writing campaigns.  More families meant bigger golf tournaments and black tie galas.  More involvement meant more money for research. 

All of this, although surely helped by incredible volunteers, was under one man’s genius.  He told me once that the real test of success is that the program is bigger than any one person and will continue long after any one person is involved.  He was right,

He is no longer with the JDRF but he has moved on to create walks for Autism and Lupus and many other organizations as well.  He is a firm believer that numbers do not lie and that success is only moving forward.  SO as you tie your sneaker this year to walk, wherever you are walking, know this: you are doing so because of the single-minded genius who came from the March of Dimes to teach an organization how to Walk to Cure Diabetes.

He is Philadelphia’s own, Steve Leonard.  The walk guru.


And he is Diabetesdad’s T.G.I.F. Take a bow Steve.