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Diabetes research group launches drive

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By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — In North Carolina, 584,000 people live with diabetes.

They are among 21 million Americans with the disease, or 7 percent of the U.S. population, including three million who have Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes.

After the federal government, the second-largest funder of Type 1 diabetes research is the New York City-based Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, which through its 85 chapters raised a total of $122 million in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2006.

Now, after a big increase in revenue from annual walks last October in Raleigh, Greenville and Wilmington, the chapter that serves 52 counties in the Triangle and Eastern North Carolina has set ambitious new goals.

Including $2.3 million it expects to raise in the current fiscal year, the chapter aims to increase its fundraising by 20 percent a year and raise a total of $20 million by June 30, 2011, says Courtney Davies, executive director.

With offices in Raleigh and Wilmington, the chapter raises half its annual revenue through corporate sponsorships for the walks, and half through contributions from individuals and families.

Chaired by Diane Adams, vice president of human resources for worldwide sales at Cisco Systems and the parent of a child with Type 1 diabetes, the main focus of the new campaign will be enlisting gifts of $10,000 or more from individuals and families.

The strategy for the campaign will to keep individuals, families and corporations informed about advances in research and treatment of Type 1 diabetes, and about the foundation’s work to support those efforts.

Typically diagnosed in children and young adults, Type 1 diabetes shuts down the pancreas’ production of insulin, a hormone needed to break down sugar, starches and other food into energy.

Without a regimen of insulin, generally through at least two self-administered shots a day or a continuous feed through a pump, patients can develop high blood-sugar levels that can result in sugar shock and death.

Diabetes accounts for $132 billion in health-care costs in the U.S. each year and 32 percent of all Medicare spending.

The local chapter estimates that last October’s walks raised $1.6 million, including $1.1 million from the Triangle event, which cleared $1 million for the first time, up from $750,000 the previous year.

The Triangle event, with 6,000 walkers, now ranks among only about 15 diabetes walks that raise over $1 million.

All funds the chapters raise go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International for research.

This fiscal year, the foundation is funding a total of roughly $2.5 million for research at Duke University in Durham, N.C. State University in Raleigh and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Formed in 1995, the chapter serves 150 new families a year with peer-to-peer mentoring and support groups through partnerships with WakeMed, UNC Hospitals, Duke Medical Center and thousands of volunteer families.

The chapter funds those programs, plus another for children, through grants from organizations like the North Carolina GSK Foundation.

“JDRF has set aggressive milestones for research and treatment,” says Davies. “We want to help people with the disease understand the treatment that’s available and what the research goals are.”

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