Join the challenge: leave a planned gift to JDRF


Caroline and her family
Caroline and her family at the Walk for JDRF


This blog is sponsored by


By Caroline Lewis, National Manager of Planned Giving at JDRF


Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a part of my family.

Blood sugar testing, carb counting, site changes, insulin doses…They are a way of life in my house because my husband, son and daughter all have type 1 diabetes (T1D). 

My family has benefitted from many of today’s T1D advancements, including continuous glucose monitors, insulin pumps and diabetes screening through TrialNet (a clinical trial research network dedicated to the prevention of type 1 diabetes). I understand the importance of research because T1D is a 24/7 disease that knows no boundaries. It is a condition that affects more than 300,000 Canadians and millions of people worldwide. 

I am grateful that JDRF Canada was founded by a group of dedicated families with a personal connection to T1D who were looking to make a difference in the lives of their loved ones. At the same time, I am inspired by the work that JDRF-funded researchers have accomplished to date, and I am hopeful for continued progress in the future.  

I have always been a donor, so it was a natural progression that I would one day become a volunteer and eventually start working for JDRF. Spending time with other families who live with T1D, and explaining how their contributions can assist JDRF in its mission to cure, prevent and better treat the disease is something I enjoy very much.

Being a mom of 2 children living with T1D, I have always thought about ways we can accelerate research for the generations to come. That’s why I’m proud to help lead our efforts in launching the Canadian BETA Society, which honours donors who have chosen to leave a planned gift to JDRFBETA society members help advance T1D research by providing JDRF with sustainable support, helping us plan for the future and invest more into potential lifesaving treatments and therapies. You can help us on this journey by including JDRF as a beneficiary in your estate plans. Your participation in the BETA Society will not only help further our mission, but also bring us one step closer to our goal of creating a world without T1D.

Between November 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019, you can include a gift to JDRF in your will or trust, or name JDRF as a beneficiary of a retirement account or a life-insurance policy. This will allow you to qualify for the JDRF Global Legacy Challenge, generating a $1,000 donation to JDRF for ongoing research projects.

If you have already included JDRF in your estate plans, but have not yet notified us, your gift also qualifies for the Legacy Challenge. Remember: In order to be eligible, you must confirm JDRF is in your estate plans by June 30, 2019.

As someone directly touched by type 1 diabetes, I hope you will join us on this journey as we continue to invest in the advancement of T1D research. Please consider leaving a legacy to JDRF Canada, and help us turn type one into type none.


Learn more about Planned Giving and JDRF Canada

Learn more about the JDRF Legacy Challenge

Meet the 2018 JDRF Legacy Challenge Sponsors



A glance at recommended 2018 apps for type 1 diabetes management



In a fast-faced world where technology is forever evolving, it is not always easy to stay abreast of the latest apps* designed for people living with type 1 diabetes (T1D). So here are some of this year’s top-rated, free diabetes apps to help you better navigate the world of carb counting, glucose monitoring and  other necessary tasks performed on a daily basis:



Glooko helps track food, medications, insulin, exercise and more to create a digital logbook, which you can review online at in the comfort of your home. It also lets users set reminders for important tasks. As well, the app allows the integration of data from most continuous glucose monitors, blood glucose meters, insulin pumps and fitness trackers. 



Users can keep a full record of their blood glucose data and daily activities with this app, as well as link to their care team, family and friends for additional support. The Health2Sync app can be synced with Bluetooth health devices, and also gives reminders and tips to assist you in making timely adjustments.



Glucosio is an app built with feedback from people living with diabetes. It helps monitor important metrics such as weight, hemoglobin A1c and blood pressure, and also includes glucose target tools and an HbA1c conversion  calculator. Glucosio app gives users the option to opt-in to sharing anonymized diabetes data and demographic information with researchers.


Glucose Buddy

This app allows users to keep track of their weight, blood pressure, HbA1c levels, carb intake and workouts, as well as monitor trends for optimal T1D management.



Diabetes:M is an app recognized for its extensive nutrition database, and calculating normal and prolonged insulin boluses. As well, it has a reminders system, works with different glucometers and insulin pumps to analyze values from imported data, and can send detailed reports to your doctor.



So now that you’re up-to-date on some of this year’s recommended T1D apps, we’d like to hear from you. Which app(s) do you use? Feel free to share your favourites with us:  Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

*Disclaimer: As T1D is very individualized, it is recommended that you consult your health care practitioner to discuss the most appropriate app for your T1D management and device.

“We’re all in!” How one veteran bank exec went from having no connection to type 1 to JDRF Global Legacy Challenge sponsor


In 2002, RBC executive Matt Varey returned to Canada with his family, after working for the bank in Switzerland. He didn’t know it yet, but his life was about to change – and not just because of the move. “When I got back, my job was national in nature and I travelled the country to get to know our Canadian team,” says Matt. “I noticed something right away. I’d meet people, and of those who looked tired, nine times out of ten, it turned out they had a child with type 1 diabetes (T1D).” 

For someone whose connection to type 1 diabetes (T1D) up until that point had been non-existent, it was a powerful introduction to the impact this disease has on families. “My wife Andrea and I have four very healthy kids – two sons and two daughters – who are now between the ages of 19 and 25,” says Matt. “We still have no truly direct connection to T1D, but when we saw the impact of this disease, and started to get to know JDRF and the people who work for it, and their incredible passion, we knew we wanted to get involved.”


What is the JDRF Global Legacy Challenge?


JDRF’s Global Legacy Challenge is an exciting initiative that offers donors considering making a planned gift to JDRF an opportunity to do even more for T1D research. It works like this:  Every planned gift commitment made to JDRF between November 2018 and June 2019 will unlock an immediate $1,000 donation to JDRF-funded T1D research by a Global Legacy Challenge sponsor. If you’ve already included JDRF in your estate plans, but have not yet notified us, your gift will also qualify. To take part in the challenge and trigger the additional $1,000 gift, please let us know about your commitment by June 30, 2019.


Fast forward 16 years, and Matt’s commitment to supporting people with T1D through JDRF has been extensive, including serving as Chair of JDRF Canada’s board of directors from 2014-2016 and now as a member of JDRF International Board of Directors. Matt is also a member of the national council for JDRF Canada’s Revolution Ride to Defeat Diabetes, and most recently, he and his wife have made a gift to JDRF in their estate plans – becoming Canadian sponsors of JDRF’s Global Legacy Challenge.  


Matt cites his mother, Fran, as one of the people who taught him the most in life about being generous. “She is the kindest person to this day on this earth," he says. "She was a great example of being humble, being kind, treating others with respect, and giving back without expecting anything in return. She was a lifelong volunteer.”

He sees that same spirit of kindness at JDRF Canada. “It’s an incredible, purposeful organization that makes quality of life better for people and does it in such a caring way.  It also does it in a very intelligent way. When you’re asking people for parts of their savings, you have to make sure that the process and discipline is there so you can credibly tell someone their hard-earned money is going to the very best research bar none. Yes, I’m confident about that. JDRF funds the very best research, from a global network of researchers and a centralized screening process, and it is trusted and recognized throughout the world.”

So what inspired Matt and Andrea to take their commitment further, to include JDRF in their estate and sponsor the Global Legacy Challenge? “Yes, we’re all in,” Matt laughs. “Being a Challenge sponsor is the clearest way we can think of to inspire more people to get excited and get more involved. Plus, giving is one of the greatest forms of self-fulfillment. That’s what I’d tell someone who was thinking of doing this. You will feel an incredible sense of fulfillment for giving. And it never wears off. Ever. In Canada, there are 300,000 people living with T1D, and there’s no question in my mind that, thanks to JDRF’s work over the years, they wake up a little better each day.”


Holiday gift ideas for people living with diabetes


With the holidays fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about what to get those special people in your life. To help with your shopping, we’ve put together a gift guide with a few creative ideas for people living with type 1 diabetes and for just about everyone on your list. So whether you choose to go simple or splashy, or get crafty at home, remember: It’s the thought that counts.



For the health-conscious:


Group exercise classes

Make exercise a part of the holiday season by giving your friend or loved one a set of yoga, Pilates or spin classes. You might even want to join a session to lend your support.

Fitness trackers

Maintaining an active lifestyle is an important part of effectively managing diabetes and trackers can be great motivators. Help a friend monitor his/her progress with a tool that counts steps and calories burned, observes heart rate and sleep patterns, and syncs it all to a smartphone.

Socks and slippers

Nothing says the holidays like cozy socks and comfy slippers. Foot care is important for everyone, but especially for people living with diabetes.  Non-skid, seamless, moisture-wicking socks, along with a pair of slippers with a hard sole and a closed toe can make a world of difference in preventing injuries at home.

Body cream

Dry skin and winter go hand in hand, so consider a gift of body cream. Glucose monitoring is made easier when skin is moisturized, which can be helpful to someone living with diabetes.


In today’s fast-paced world, rest and relaxation are often pushed aside by stress. Whether or not a person lives with diabetes, a massage can be a wonderful way to unwind physically and mentally.


Want to encourage a close friend to cut down on soda and replace it with a beverage that boasts a variety of flavours for every taste?  Then a tea set may be the perfect gift. Think about a decorative box filled with a shiny kettle, a pretty cup and saucer, and a selection of specialty teas.


For the foodie:


Cooking classes

A cooking class makes a great holiday gift for the foodie in you circle who appreciates different cuisines and new techniques. Whether a novice or a seasoned cook, they will surely enjoy the experience!

Cooking gadgets

Healthy eating is part of a healthy lifestyle for everyone. Consider buying a slow cooker or an indoor grill so your loved one can make wholesome meals all year round without the fuss.

Olive oil and balsamic vinegar

A good salad is only as good as the condiments used to prepare it. Treat your friends to a set of the finest imported olive oil and balsamic vinegar within your budget.

Homemade goodies

Are you renowned in your circles for the best apple muffins that put store-bought brands and mixes to shame? Maybe you make your own bread, or a delicious jam to serve at breakfast. Whatever your culinary talent, consider offering a gift from your kitchen this season to show a family member how much you care.


For the reader:



The holidays are the perfect time to catch up on some reading and a good book can be a welcome gift. Pair it with a pretty bookmark for that special someone.


Surprise those closest to you with a year-long subscription to their favourite magazine. With so many categories to choose from, there is something for everyone!


A personalized notebook can inspire loved ones with diabetes to keep track of his/her blood sugar readings, food intake and exercise. It can also serve as incentive for them to record innermost thoughts,  their personal journey with diabetes, or even family anecdotes to pass down to future generations.


For the artist:



The gift of music is a great tool for exercise and stress management. Spoil your loved one this holiday season with a cool portable media player.

Concert tickets

Whether it’s the opera, a rock concert or a ballet, friends and/or relatives will certainly enjoy tickets to a show. Look for group discounts and seasonal specials, if available.

Paint nite

The ‘paint nite’ craze is still going strong in cities across the country. Grab some buddies and sign up at a studio near you for an evening of instructional art, music and fun!


For the fashionista:


Supply bags

People living with diabetes have much to carry around, so why not buy your friend one of many stylish supply bags currently on the market to tote insulin and medical necessities? These fashionable accessories are often designed by people who have diabetes, making them the perfect choice.

Diabetes awareness jewelry

Medical alert jewelry can be practical and chic with select stores offering high-end engravable bracelet options, as well as stainless steel versions. For more affordable choices, the MedicAlert Foundation has bracelets, necklaces and accessories for men, women and children in a variety of styles and materials.


Of course, should you prefer a more philanthropic approach this season, how about a DYI fundraiser whereby the proceeds from your event are donated to diabetes research? By helping others, you will undoubtedly be giving one of the best gifts ever.

We sent 28 kids to Ottawa to call for a cure to type 1 diabetes

By Patrick Tohill, Government Relations Director at JDRF Canada

JDRF’s Kids for a Cure Lobby Day was held from October 28-30 and what an impact our youth delegates made – engaging with more than 100 Members of Parliament and senators in just two days! Wow!!

Every two years, JDRF sends youth who live with type 1 diabetes (T1D) to Ottawa to put a human face to the disease and help Parliamentarians understand just how challenging it can be. This year, 28 kids between the ages of 4 and 17 were selected out of 135 applicants – more than ever before!

Our 28 young lobbyists wowed everyone they met with their knowledge, communication skills, poise and charm, including some very important decision makers such as the Honourable Ginette Petitipas Taylor, Minister of Health, and the Honourable Dianne Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue. Using a scrapbook they’d put together, the delegates helped bring into focus the struggles and needs of Canadians living with T1D with the hope that government will prioritize our issues and recommendations.

It was testament to the impact of our Kids for a Cure Lobby Day when Pam Goldsmith-Jones, the All-Party Juvenile Diabetes Caucus Chair, MP for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea-to-Sky Country, rose to acknowledge our youth delegates in the gallery during Members’ Statements, and sparked off a standing ovation from both sides of the House.

This not only speaks to the success of our lobbying effort, the influence of our champions in Parliament and, our degree of alignment with our federal political parties, but also most of all it speaks to just how powerful it is to put children living with diabetes in front of Canada’s decision-makers and simply let them share their stories.

Naturally, it is not just about telling stories, but also about garnering support. Every MP or senator we met with was asked to do two things: 1) join the All-Party Juvenile Diabetes Caucus and 2) write a letter to the Minister of Finance in support of the five recommendations in JDRF’s 2019 Pre-Budget Submissions.

But stories do matter! Your stories matter! Thinking about the impact that just 28 kids can have, can you imagine if it were hundreds? And we need the voices of adults living with diabetes to be heard, too! Why not take a few minutes and reach out to your local Member of Parliament to request a meeting the next time he/she is in your riding. We have Advocacy resources available and would be happy to assist you.

A huge THANK YOU to all 28 Kids for a Cure youth delegates! We are extremely fortunate to have assembled such a well-spoken, persuasive group of advocates. Thanks to the parents as well, for supporting them in their activism. Your efforts and those of your children will have a real and lasting impact on our government relations program.

Study shows type 1 diabetes is still largely misdiagnosed

Learning you have diabetes is never welcome news, but it can be even more disconcerting when you’re mistakenly diagnosed with the wrong type.

A new study by Dr. Nick Thomas and his colleagues at the University of Exeter (UK) reveals that 20% of adults who develop type 1 diabetes (T1D) over the age of 30 appear to be initially diagnosed with type 2 diabetes instead.

While the research was largely based on self-reported diagnoses, distinguishing between the two conditions has often proved challenging for clinicians, especially among older adults who exhibit common diabetes symptoms.

Dr. Thomas and his team looked at 583 people over the age of 30 who were on insulin therapy. In order to determine whether they had been accurately diagnosed and given correct treatment for T1D, researchers measured how much C-peptide the participants were producing. A by-product of insulin, C-peptide is made of chemical compounds called amino acids and is generally found in amounts equal to insulin in the blood. A higher C-peptide measurement is indicative of type 2 diabetes, whereas lower C-peptide is associated with T1D.

122 of the 583 adult participants had a severe insulin deficiency according to their C-peptide levels, suggesting T1D. Among them, 38% didn’t receive insulin at diagnosis. In addition, only 79% of these adults reported they had T1D, while 20% stated they had type 2 diabetes, confirming the notion that T1D is still largely misdiagnosed.

The findings were presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes’ (EASD) 2018 Annual Meeting in early October. Stressing the need for clearer guidelines to make a proper diagnosis of diabetes, the team at Exeter University is currently working on a tool that will allow clinicians to establish whether a person is likely to have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, so that he/she can receive appropriate treatment without delay and avoid complications.

Even though T1D starting in adulthood is less common (approximately 20% of Canadians living with T1D are diagnosed as adults), the rising cases of misdiagnoses highlight the need for greater public awareness of the disease.

If you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, but are not responding to treatment, consider discussing the possibility of further testing with your healthcare professional.

For more informative articles on health and type 1 diabetes, visit our JDRF Blog

JDRF Collaborates to Support Diabetes 360⁰ Initiative

By Patrick Tohill, JDRF National Director of Government Relations

For the second time in two weeks, I find myself in Ottawa. Last week was for Kids for a Cure, JDRF’s signature lobbying event. This week, I’m here with JDRF President and CEO Dave Prowten and a number of diabetes organizations to support the Diabetes 360⁰ initiative.

 What is Diabetes 360⁰?

The Diabetes 360⁰ initiative was conceived by Diabetes Canada and developed in collaboration with 120 experts. It is supported by every major diabetes organization in Canada (type 1 and type 2), including JDRF. It is a framework for a pan-Canadian diabetes strategy aimed at drastically reducing and eventually ending diabetes based on four simple but ambitious targets:

  • 90% of Canadians live in an environment that prevents the development of diabetes
  • 90% of Canadians are aware of their diabetes status
  • 90% of Canadians living with prediabetes or diabetes are engaged in appropriate interventions to prevent diabetes and its complications
  • 90% of Canadians engaged in interventions are achieving improved health outcomes

With the incidence of type 1 diabetes (T1D) increasing faster in Canada than in many other developed countries (effectively doubling every 20 years), it’s clear that we need to do everything we can to improve prevention strategies. For T1D, prevention means an increased investment in autoimmunity research to understand and prevent the response that triggers the body’s destruction of its insulin-producing cells.

Delayed diagnosis of T1D is a leading factor in incidence of life-threatening but avoidable diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) in both children and adults with an estimated 5-10K Canadians hospitalized annually due to DKA. An alarming number are infants in toddlers. Nearly 4 in 10 children under age 3 present with DKA at the time of first diagnosis. Of these, 38% had visited a physician within the previous week. Interventions are needed to help Health Care Providers diagnose T1D earlier, including increased use of finger-prick blood glucose testing in clinical settings and testing of family members of those with T1D.

Appropriate interventions for T1D aimed at reducing complications include those promoting adherence to recommended treatment guidelines (eye and foot checks, for example) as well as those that increase access to beneficial diabetes technologies such as insulin pumps, flash glucose monitoring, continuous glucose monitoring and hybrid-closed loop systems.

Improving outcomes with respect to T1D means moving beyond HbA1C to look at other metrics such as time spent in target range, and reduced incidences of hypo- and hyperglycemia.

For this reason, JDRF Canada has made support for Diabetes 360⁰ one of our five key recommendations in our 2019 Pre-Budget Submission, and why we are actively participating in both the advisory group and the T1D working group. And that’s why we are here in Ottawa once again this week advocating on your behalf – to convince policymakers of the need to fund this initiative.

Using a type 2 diabetes drug to manage type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) and type 2 diabetes may have little in common, but a new research study has revealed that a drug used to treat the latter could also benefit individuals living with T1D.

Dr. Farid Mahmud is a JDRF-funded investigator and a specialist in pediatric endocrinology at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. He is examining the effects of empagliflozin (a drug currently approved for use in type 2 diabetes, and known for its metabolic and health benefits) among adolescents and young adults with T1D who are at a higher risk of developing complications, such as kidney and heart disease. Empagliflozin reduces the amount of glucose the kidneys reabsorb into the blood, thereby allowing more to pass through the urine.

The Adolescent Type 1 Diabetes Treatment with EMPagliflozin for Hyperglycemia & HyperfilTration Trial (ATTEMPT) is designed to evaluate the impact of these drivers in combination with insulin therapy, and assess the effectiveness and implementation of the oral medication.

During adolescence and young adulthood, patients with T1D have the poorest blood sugar control across their lifespan. This is due to numerous factors such as physiologic changes (growth and puberty) that make individuals less sensitive to insulin, and psychological, social and developmental changes.

In the ATTEMPT Trial, 100 patients will be enrolled in a 20-week study to determine the quality of their diabetes control. Through the study of novel treatment agents and with input from patients and families, the trial will assess the potential for improved blood sugar control, and a decreased risk for complications that often occur during adolescence.

If successful, the project will be the first academically-led North American trial to use this method to treat adolescents, and evaluate if these agents are effective and safe in the management of T1D in youth. In addition, the findings will be integrated with the team’s ongoing research on kidney disease in T1D.

For more informative articles on health and type 1 diabetes, visit our JDRF Blog

Exploring the link between hypoglycemia and abnormal heart rhythms

Getting a restful night’s sleep is often an elusive goal for many. Yet for someone living with type 1 diabetes (T1D), it can be more worrisome than challenging given the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). In fact, a new research study reveals that hypoglycemia can also induce abnormal heart rhythms, which in some cases could lead to cardiac failure.

Dr. Simon J. Fisher, co-director of the Diabetes and Metabolism Center at the University of Utah, presented data on the link between hypoglycemia and heart failure at the American Diabetes Association’s conference held in June. He explained that individuals who experience hypoglycemia a number of times can develop cardiac arrhythmias, and that a subsequent episode of severe hypoglycemia could lead to sudden death.

Dr. Fisher’s findings also showed that using a beta blocker—an oral medicine to treat high blood pressure—helped to prevent death in T1D animal models. One of the symptoms of low blood sugar is a rapid heartbeat. The medication blocks the hormone adrenaline, which slows the nerve impulses in the heart, resulting in less quick heartbeats and improved blood flow. Although the beta blocker increases the risk for hypoglycemia by reducing low blood sugar awareness, it simultaneously protects against severe hypoglycemia-induced fatal cardiac arrhythmias.

While human trials have not commenced, Dr. Fisher recommends that healthcare professionals work with patients to adjust target glycemic goals accordingly in order to avoid potential fatal occurrences.

Dr. Fisher has been supported by JDRF since 2001 when he was a postdoctoral fellow at Joslin Diabetes Center. He was the recipient of several JDRF grants and currently mentors JDRF-funded investigators.

For more informative articles on health and type 1 diabetes, visit our JDRF Blog.