History was made again

Making history is not easy. After discovering insulin 100 years ago, Frederick Banting and Charles Best spent tireless nights isolating and purifying it to treat type 1 diabetes (T1D). Their discovery saved millions of lives. Generous donors have fueled further research breakthroughs, yet those living with T1D still require insulin to stay alive. Canada gave the world the first and still only treatment for diabetes – and JDRF knows that it’s now time to give the world a cure.

This is why JDRF has embarked on a campaign to accelerate diabetes research and has invited all Canadians to join us on the path to a cure. In only 20 months, JDRF Canada’s $100M Campaign to Accelerate has reached more than 70% of its goal.

To support the public launch of the Campaign, on Monday, April 4, 2022, five brave Canadians set out to do something historic. They decided to live atop a 40-foot flagpole for 100 hours each as part of our Let’s Make History Again event to help raise awareness and funds in pursuit of a cure for T1D, a disease that affects more than 300,000 Canadians. Located in Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary and two in Toronto, the uniqueness of the event and the ingenious construction of the flagpoles generated interest, fascination and helped to raise awareness of the realities of what it’s like to live with T1D.

Let’s Make History Again is truly a rallying cry for all Canadians who have been impacted by diabetes,” says Dave Prowten, President and CEO of JDRF Canada.

Leader in History, Leanne Souquet, with the Dexcom team, in Montreal

“While the discovery of insulin in Canada 100 years ago has saved millions of lives, it is still only a treatment and not a cure. It is fitting that now is the time to map out the next era of discovery in type 1 diabetes research. Not only will this event provide the funds to accelerate our work finding a cure for this disease, but it’s incredibly inspiring to see so many Canadians and families galvanized by this cause that touches the lives of so many,” he continues.

After facing inhospitable weather and dealing head-on with the unique challenges that come with living atop a flagpole, history was made. The Leaders in History successfully completed the Flagpole 100 Challenge.

JDRF extends a huge thank you to our Leaders: Vanessa, Leanne, Wilson, Chris and Ryan, and our original Leader in HistoryPeter Oliver.

In 1990, Peter Oliver was the first to live on top a 40-foot flagpole to raise funds and awareness for type 1 diabetes (T1D), with a goal of raising $250,000. With his leadership and initiative, JDRF reimagined his original campaign to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first successful insulin injection and raise awareness of the 100M Campaign to Accelerate.

Leaders in History, Peter and Vanessa Oliver, in front of their flagpole in Toronto.

“I still remember getting the call when my daughter Vanessa was first diagnosed at the age of six,” says Peter Oliver. “You never forget the moment you learn your child has a disease they will need to manage for the rest of their lives. Ever since, it has been a personal commitment to do everything I can to ensure no other family experiences that moment. I’m so proud of all our Leaders in History, the volunteers and JDRF staff who have worked tirelessly to bring this event back to life. I really believe that we are on the cusp of a cure for diabetes, and it will once again mark an incredible Canadian achievement in medicine,” he continues.

It was an incredible week of excitement, connection, and momentum. The Leaders in History selflessly shared their 100 hours by participating in IG lives, posting to social media, hosting special guests, participating in media interviews, contacting donors by phone all to share what it was like to be atop their flagpole, what the event meant to them, the diabetes technology that has impacted their daily life, and how a cure would change the lives of themselves, their families, and millions of people around the globe.

Ambassador and long-time volunteer with JDRF, Miriam DosAnjos and her son, Youth Ambassador, Mason DosAnjos

But they weren’t alone. Camping in solidarity with them were Ambassadors of History families and individuals across the country, and an army of motivated supporters across Canada who also came together to support JDRF’s $100M Campaign to Accelerate.

“There are no words to truly describe what a special week this was for JDRF,” says Prowten.

“It is incredibly exciting to see all the energy around our Let’s Make History Again event. This is such a remarkable accomplishment, with great media coverage, donations and the hard work of our staff and devoted volunteers. I had the honour of visiting the sites – and was so incredibly proud – it truly takes a group of wonderful, dedicated people to make an event like this possible, and that hard work was being witnessed everywhere,” he continues.

JDRF also recognizes James and Louise Temerty, who are generously matching all donations up to $10 million through Temerty Foundation until May 31, 2022. This was the single largest gift to fund T1D research in Canadian history. The donation was made with the hopes of inspiring others to step forward to support diabetes research and bring us closer to a cure.

Their generosity resonated with Susan and Brian Beamish of WB Family Foundation; longtime JDRF supporters who were spurred to make an additional gift of $3M in support of the $100M Campaign to Accelerate.

As of April 21, 2022, the Let’s Make History Again event has raised close to $11 million in support of the most promising T1D research.

This initiative also would not have been possible without JDRF’s volunteers, donors, and corporate partners’ tireless, dedicated support. All five flagpole structures were fabricated and painted entirely by volunteers. As well, all the structural materials, supplies and services were generously donated at no cost to JDRF to bring Peter Oliver’s vision to life. Thank you to everyone involved.

JDRF is deeply grateful to our many supporters uniting for a cure, helping Canada to make history again:

Advocate Printing
Atlas Tube
B+H Architects
Bercon Rentals Inc
Canadian Pacific
Chop Steakhouse & Bar
Crawford Metal Corp
D. Dyment Haulage
Desjardins Insurance
Equal Parts Hospitality
Flipp Advertising
Gradient Wind Engineering
Groupe Atwill-Morin Inc.
Grouse Mountain Resort
Insulet Corporation
Island Marketing
Janco Steel
Lawlor Safety
Les entreprises d’électricité E.G. Ltée
Moduloc Fence Rentals
Mulvey & Banani International Inc
Myshak Crane & Rigging
Northern Mat & Bridge LP
Northland Properties
Pomp & Circumstance
PPG Paints Canada
Precision Bolts
Priestly Demolition
Protec Installation Group
Read Jones Christoffersen
Revelstoke Mountain Resort
Richard Steel
RKM Crane Services LTD
Roche Diabetes Care
RTI Industrial Ltd
Safety First Consulting
Salit Steel
Sandman Hotel Group
Shadeview Structures Inc.
Tandem Diabetes Care Canada, Inc.
The Sutton Place Hotels
United Rentals
Vertex Pharmaceuticals (Canada)
Westcan Scaffolding Inc
Western Electrical Management Ltd.

It’s never been a more exciting time in T1D research, and with your support, every day we get closer to a world free from type 1 diabetes. Thank you, Canada.

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