JDRF Canada Sets Out to Make History Again


As Canada Marks 100th Anniversary of First Successful Injection of Insulin, JDRF Canada Sets Out to Make History Again

Five Brave Canadian Volunteers Set to Live Atop a Flagpole for 100 Hours, Raising Funds to Find a Cure for Type 1 Diabetes

TORONTO, March 10, 2022 — JDRF Canada, the largest charitable funder of type 1 diabetes (T1D) research in the country, is publicly launching its largest-ever fundraising campaign, the $100M Campaign to Accelerate. The campaign aims to accelerate the pace of T1D research being done in Canada to help find a cure. Canada discovered insulin and by supporting research, Canada can cure diabetes.

To make history again, five brave Canadians impacted by T1D will live atop a 40-foot flagpole in cities across the country as part of JDRF’s Let’s Make History Again event. They will do this for 100 hours this spring, beginning on April 4, to help raise $15 million to help find a cure for T1D.

The Let’s Make History Again event honours the anniversaries of the discovery of insulin and the first successful injection of insulin—both of which took place in Toronto 100 years ago— while accelerating research to move beyond insulin and find a cure. The event features the Flagpole 100 challenge, which was inspired by Oliver & Bonacini Co-Founder and longtime JDRF supporter, Peter Oliver, who—32 years ago—lived atop a flagpole until he raised $250,000 for T1D research after his daughter’s diagnosis at the age of six. He attributed the inspiration for the flagpole to the endless balancing act of life and death decisions that those living with T1D face each day, which can feel extremely isolating, similar to being alone atop a flagpole.

“I still remember getting the call when my daughter Vanessa was first diagnosed at the age of six. We didn’t know a thing about diabetes, but Vanessa thought the ‘di’ in ‘diabetes’ meant you were going to die,” says Peter Oliver. “That day has stuck with me my whole life. I think of all the families and children that experience that same moment and I strongly believe when there is a cure for diabetes, it will go down as one of the greatest achievements in the history of mankind.”

When insulin was discovered 100 years ago in Toronto, Canada, researchers Frederick Banting and Charles Best sold its patent for only $1. It was considered one of Canada’s greatest gifts to the world, however those living with T1D still require insulin to stay alive.

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. “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 propel us forward in finding a cure for the disease, but it’s incredibly inspiring to see so many Canadians and families galvanized by this cause that touches the lives of so many.”

“With the help of the JDRF, researchers like myself are driving innovative research with the goal of improving strategies to treat or prevent T1D,” says Dr. Patrick MacDonald, Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Alberta. Dr. MacDonald’s JDRF-funded work aims to develop a comprehensive molecular encyclopedia about insulin-producing islet cells to uncover new approaches to improve glucose regulation as well as inform ongoing and future T1D cure research.

The five Leaders in History will unite atop 40-foot flagpoles in cities across the country for 100 hours to help raise $15 million for JDRF’s $100M Campaign to Accelerate from April 4 until April 8, 2022. The Leaders in History will head atop the flagpoles on April 4 at 11 a.m. local time and the public is welcome to stop by and show their support.

Flagpoles will be located at:
• Toronto-Dominion Centre, 55 King St W, Toronto, ON M5H 3C2
• UHN (Toronto General Hospital), 585 University Ave., Toronto, ON M5G 2C4
• 200 Granville Street, Vancouver, BC V6C 1S4
• Calgary City Centre, 215 2 St SW, Calgary, AB T2P 0H7
• Rio Tinto Indoor Courtyard 1160 Av. des Canadiens-de-Montréal, Montréal, QC H3B 2S2

Camping in solidarity with our Leaders in History will be our 100 Ambassadors of History families. These families will be camping in their local parks, backyards or even their basements, undertaking the challenge to support JDRF and raise funds to find a cure for T1D.

To get involved and make a lasting impact on the future of T1D research and care, JDRF invites Canadians to become History Makers. You can help JDRF make history again by registering and joining hundreds of people across the country who will be doing their own unique challenge to raising funds and awareness for JDRF. To learn more about getting involved visit canadacuresdiabetes.ca.

Some words from some of the JDRF’s incredible partners:

“It’s an honour to celebrate this remarkable achievement and help mark the 100th anniversary of the discovery and first successful injection of insulin in this country,” said Susan O’Brien, Chief Brand and Customer Officer, Canadian Tire Corporation. “As we celebrate our own 100th anniversary this year, we continue our longstanding commitment to making life in Canada better. We’re proud to partner with JDRF’s Let’s Make History Again initiative and commit $500,000 through a combination of financial support and in-kind donations to help find a cure for those living with type 1 diabetes.”

“At Cadillac Fairview, we have a strong legacy of supporting our communities, clients and partners and the causes that are important to them to inspire meaningful change,” said Sal Iacono, Executive Vice President of Operations, Cadillac Fairview. “This year’s centennial milestone event is an incredible accomplishment in the fight against type 1 diabetes and we’re proud to support the campaign by hosting the Flagpole 100 Challenge at four CF office towers across Canada and making a donation to support ongoing research. Together, alongside our longtime partner, Oliver & Bonacini, we are excited to make history with JDRF.”

“We are thrilled to see the enthusiasm and efforts of our employees and volunteers who have come together around the JDRF Flagpole 100 Challenge. The Walters Group family is passionate about making a difference!”, says Peter Kranendonk, Chief Executive Officer of Walters Group. “Building History is our purpose and this transformational campaign inspired us because we care about every fellow Canadian who struggles with or is affected by type 1 diabetes. These structures are being built with our hearts and our hands in the hope and with the prayer that all of us together will Make History Again with great therapies and a cure for T1D!”

“For more than 20 years, Dexcom’s singular focus has been to give people the power to change how they live with diabetes through our CGM technology. We are so excited to be partnering with JDRF Canada as they make history with the Flagpole 100 Challenge,” said Laura Endres, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Dexcom Canada. “One day there will be a cure for diabetes, but until then, we will work every day to empower people to take control of their diabetes and live life to the fullest.”

“We are so proud of our partnership with JDRF and Lilly was beyond excited to support a campaign acknowledging one hundred years of discovery, while inspiring Canadians to persist in our collective effort to beat diabetes,” says Rhonda Pacheco, General Manager, Lilly Canada “At PCL, we’re driven to build a better future by building people, communities and legacies. We are proud to contribute to JDRF through supporting and building the flagpoles to help commemorate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin. We hope that through the combined efforts of all those involved, we can do our part to support JDRF’s mission of improving lives for those living with type 1 diabetes.” Mike Wieninger, Chief Operating Officer, Canadian Operations for PCL Construction

About JDRF

JDRF is the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. Our mission is to accelerate life-changing breakthroughs to cure, prevent and treat T1D and its complications. To accomplish this, JDRF has invested more than $3 billion CAD in research funding since our inception. We are an organization built on a grassroots model of people connecting in their local communities, collaborating regionally for efficiency and broader fundraising impact, and uniting on a national stage to pool resources, passion, and energy. We collaborate with academic institutions, governments, and corporate and industry partners to develop and deliver a pipeline of innovative therapies to people living with T1D. Our staff and volunteers throughout Canada and six international affiliates are dedicated to advocacy, community engagement and our vision of a world without T1D. For more information, please visit jdrf.ca.


For further information please contact Laura Gannon at laura@pomppr.com.

Stay connected on the latest