Builder invests in diabetes research

By Todd Cohen

GREENSBORO, N.C. — For Greensboro developer Roy Carroll II, finding a cure and better treatment for juvenile diabetes is a family cause.

After his oldest daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes four years ago, he vowed to get involved with the organization he believed was most focused on finding a cure for the disease.

And borrowing a page from Greensboro’s Berry family and its family business, The Fresh Market, Carroll has committed the philanthropy of his real-estate company to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

For each of the past two years, enlisting roughly 50 of its suppliers and subcontractors in the cause, Carroll’s Old South Home Co. has donated the sales revenue of one of its new homes to the foundation.

Adding to those donations, which totaled roughly $140,000 in 2005 and roughly $166,000 in 2006, the company this year hopes to donate another $168,000 from a home it began building in July.

In addition to the company’s support for the foundation, Carroll’s wife, Vanessa, serves on the board of the foundation’s Winston-Salem-based Piedmont Triad chapter, and has co-chaired the chapter’s annual fundraising gala.

And two of the couple’s daughters, 16-year-old Brittney, who has Type 1 diabetes, and 14-year-old Madison, donate $4,000 to $6,000 a year to the foundation from the sale of jewelry they make themselves.

“It’s a family-wide endeavor to raise money for JDRF,” says Carroll, owner of The Carroll Companies, one of the Triad’s biggest real-estate developers.

Since his mother was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes 20 years ago he says, he has known about the disease.

But it was not until Brittney was diagnosed that the lack of a cure and the daily regimen of self-administered insulin shots and blood-sugar monitoring hit home, he says.

Diabetes kills an American every three minutes and is the leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart disease and amputation, according to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

With 700,000 Americans living with the disease, including 70,000 in the Triad, it generates of costs of over $130 billion a year throughout the United States, including $3.5 billion in North Carolina.

But investment in research can pay off, Carroll says.

For nearly three years, for example, Brittney Carroll had to give herself at least three insulin shots a day.

But for over a year, thanks to the development of new technology funded by the foundation, an insulin pump inserted into her back through a needle has automatically injected insulin when she needs it.

And while she still must prick her finger with a needle eight to 10 times a day to check her blood-sugar level, a new “artificial pancreas” is being tested with research dollars from the foundation that would continuously monitor her blood sugar and automatically regulate the flow of insulin through the pump.

In addition to his hopes for progress from research, Carroll also hopes to enlist other builders in the focus of his own corporate philanthropy.

As he talks to other developers in the region and throughout the United States, Carroll says, he is spreading the same message he has used in recruiting his own suppliers and subcontractors in the cause of supporting diabetes research – that most people have a family member or friend affected by the disease, and that research can produce results.

Already, he says, a homebuilder in Seattle has voiced interest in dedicating the sale proceeds of a house he is building to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Mike Conrad, executive director of the foundation’s Piedmont Triad chapter, says Carroll is generating new dollars for research at no cost to the foundation, while working to enlist other builders locally and throughout the United States to support the foundation through the proceeds from the sale of new houses.

“Roy really wants to perpetuate this throughout the country,” Conrad says.

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