Bonnie and Terry Jackson's Story

September 19, 1978, is a day that Bonnie and Terry Jackson will never forget.

That was the day that their eldest daughter, Joanna, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D), at the age of 5. They recall vividly the green jumper that she was wearing as they drove to the Montreal Children’s Hospital.

“It’s a day that we’ll always remember. The day that our life changed forever.”

They remember the early years, before blood sugar monitors were available, frequently testing Joanna’s urine to determine if her blood sugar was high or low. “There were no home blood sugar testing machines,” explains Bonnie. “We had to test her urine and put a tablet into a test tube. It was archaic, but it was all that was available.”

When Joanna turned eight, she attended Camp Huronda, a camp for children with T1D. It was here that Joanna learned to administer her own needle which meant she could now have sleep overs and a bit more independence, like her friends. As people living with or affected by this disease know, managing T1D is a round-the-clock balancing act with life-threatening complications always in the background. Insulin injections, food intake, exercise, blood sugar levels, and stress must all be kept in check, which is not an easy task. Bonnie and Terry remember the months and years that followed, caring for their daughter, while raising two more. “T1D is a life-endangering disease that changes your life drastically. It is 24/7; there is no holiday from it.”

Years have passed and Joanna is now a busy mom with two toddlers, a rewarding career as a teacher, and involved with many activities and programs in the community. However, she still struggles to keep her blood sugars in a healthy range; after decades of living with T1D, the constant vigilance and monitoring continues.

Over the years, Bonnie and Terry have continued to be involved with many different charitable opportunities but JDRF has always been the charity that benefits the most from their generosity as volunteers and philanthropists. From galas, walks, rides, to board activities and major gifts fundraising, the Jacksons have been involved and have supported all of JDRF’s programs. Planned Giving is now augmenting their annual cash contributions. They are looking ahead as to how they can give back financially in their later years, and even after they are gone.

“Originally, we had a gift to JDRF in our will making us members of the BETA Society,” explains Terry. “After a discussion with an insurance expert we decided to change the cash gift to a gift of life insurance. JDRF is still going to receive the same amount but for us it is more tax efficient to be receiving an annual deduction for the insurance premiums. It was a simple decision – JDRF pays the premiums and we make a donation to cover the costs – it is the ultimate win-win.”

Terry and Bonnie are hoping that others follow their lead and make planned giving part of their retirement portfolios and estate planning activities. “There is still the challenge to make more and more people aware of this opportunity” Terry says. “There is no harm in doing it now versus waiting. Don’t do it on your deathbed. That does not make sense and it does not cost you anything to do it now.”

Bonnie says that volunteering and giving back makes her who she is today. “I am a full-time volunteer. I volunteer and fundraise for several other organizations, but it is JDRF that is my raison d’etre. What I love to do is doing what I do for JDRF.

“We are supporting a winner, because JDRF is making a difference and funding groundbreaking research for T1D in Canada and around the world. JDRF’s focus to support diabetes research is our focus as well. Therapies that prevent or treat T1D-related complications, stem cell research, restoring the body’s ability to produce insulin, these are all pillars of focus for JDRF that we too believe in and hope they hold the answers for a brighter future for our daughter and for all who live with T1D.”

And what do Bonnie and Terry hope will eventually happen in years to come? “We hope that JDRF will go out of business,” says Terry.

“Yes, and what a celebration that will be,” promises Bonnie.


To learn more, please fill out a request for information, or contact:

Agata Witkiewicz
National Manager, Foundations & Planned Giving
Phone: 416.317.2616
Toll-free: 1.877.287.3533
Charitable Number: 111897 6604 RR0001