by Rebecca Silverman

Blue is the color to wear this November. A simple color conveys a much bigger message for thousands of families in the KC Metro, showing the world what type 1 diabetes (T1D) looks like. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) community will commemorate National Diabetes Awareness Month this November by educating and raising awareness of type 1 diabetes. JDRF is the leading global organization funding T1D research. Type 1 diabetes is a chronic, life-threatening autoimmune disease that strikes children and adults at any age. It is often an invisible disease, others can’t always physically see the complications and challenges.

Type 1 diabetes is often confused with type 2 diabetes. These misunderstandings exist because of the similarities. Both type 1 and type 2 share similar symptoms at diagnosis, including excessive thirst, increase urination, increased infections, fatigue, weight loss and blurred vision. Blood-glucose monitoring is important for people with T1D and T2D and life-threatening complications can occur from both. That’s where the similarities end. The difference between T1D and T2D is broad. Type 1 diabetes is not related to diet or lifestyle, and there is nothing you can do to get rid of it. In T1D, the body’s immune system destroys cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, meaning the body produces little to no insulin to regulate blood sugar and get energy from food. Type 2 diabetes, which makes up 90-95 percent of all diabetes diagnosis, happens when the body makes insulin, but can’t use it normally.

JDRF is committed to making day-to-day life easier, safer and healthier for the type 1 diabetes community while working toward our vision of a world without T1D. Type 1 diabetes can happen to anyone, and the number of people with T1D is expected to grow to 5 million by the year 2050 if we don’t do something now. JDRF’s mission is to accelerate life-changing breakthroughs to cure, prevent and treat T1D and its complications. JDRF has invested more than $2 billion in research funding since our inception.

T1D is a disease that must be managed every hour of every day. To achieve our mission, JDRF drives multiple approaches. Our scientific strategy is organized into six research areas, one of which is the Artificial Pancreas. JDRF is working to find systems that can automatically deliver more effective and precise insulin and multi-hormone therapy. Years ago, JDRF was one of the first funders of this technology and this product is now to market. Families across the Kansas City Metro are finding better results because of this advancement. Another research approach is Beta Cell Replacement, which delivers cell replacement therapies in a protective device that can provide long-term relief from insulin therapy without the need for intensive immune suppression. JDRF research is also focusing on complications, prevention, glucose control and restoration. JDRF believes the T1D community wants ““ and deserves ““ devices that are smaller, easier to use, and highly effective.

Political leaders know we’re demanding results. JDRF sends hundreds of adults and young people living with T1D to Capitol Hill, and to their representatives’ home districts, year after year to share their stories and lobby for funds to the disease. JDRF demands better coverage under Medicare and takes on insurers for access to affordable insulin and new technologies to control T1D. We believe ALL people with T1D should have access to insulin at a low, predictable out-of-pocket cost. Life-saving medication should not be out of reach.

We invite you to join our T1D family and become an advocate for JDRF. Our policy agenda is ambitious to ensure people have access to the most effective T1D treatments and therapies. It takes community support to advocate for national policies that protect those with chronic diseases like T1D and push for continued funding for the Special Diabetes Program (SDP), which provides $150 million a year in T1D research to the National Institutes of Health.

JDRF Kansas City Chapter hosts a variety of outreach and fundraising events each year. Each fall we host JDRF One Walk, Kansas City. This fun, family-friendly event gives people with T1D, their loved ones, friends, companies, and local community the chance to come together to positively impact the lives of those living with T1D. JDRF is hosting TypeOneNation Summit on November 3, 2018 at the KU Edwards Campus in Overland Park. TypeOneNation Summit is a single-day education and networking opportunity for anyone in the type 1 diabetes community. Hear from T1D experts on the latest treatments and research breakthroughs, and participate in discussions that impact you and your family. The Young Leadership Committee of JDRF is proud to host the 6th annual Diabetes Dash for Life presented by Retina Associates on November 4, 2018. Lace up your sneakers and run at 8 a.m. at Town Center Plaza. You’re also invited to attend the 2019 JDRF Dream Gala on May 5, 2019 at the Kansas City Marriott Downtown. The 24th annual JDRF Dream Gala features a cocktail reception, silent auction, dinner, live auction and Fund A Cure as we gather to fund type 1 diabetes research.

JDRF has one goal: to create a world without T1D. While you can’t prevent T1D and there is currently no cure, there is something you can do to help. Join us at our events. We can’t do it without you.