The Turner family wants to help families like theirs affected by T1D

A diagnosis of type 1 diabetes (T1D) changes the trajectory of an entire family. This was no different for the Turner Family when Alex was diagnosed at 14-years-old.

The Turners are a close-knit family, parents Richard and Alison, and children Alex, Sara and Emma approached Alex’s diagnosis together as a family.

“At 14 years old, it was so traumatic and hard. For my parents, and of course for Alex. It really rocked our entire family. We were all affected,” says Sara. “And JDRF has been a part of our lives since then”.

Today, Alex works at RBC, and his wife Camryn works in Management Consulting. Richard, Alison, Sara, and Emma all have careers in the real estate sector. They have all been active volunteers with JDRF, particularly helping with events like the Sun Life Ride to Defeat Diabetes, and chairing the 2019 Gala in Toronto, Ontario.

It has been 15 years since Alex’s diagnosis. He played competitive golf as a teen and throughout university. While managing his diabetes, he struggled in ways other kids didn’t.  

“The CGM (continuous glucose monitoring) and other diabetes devices helps him monitor his insulin and blood glucose levels and puts him more on a level playing field. A lot of people still don’t have access to them.  Today these devices are more widely available, but they are still incredibly costly, and not everyone has the luxury to pay for them.” says Sara. “I can’t even imagine as a parent, experiencing the stress and anxiety that comes with having a child with type 1 diabetes. With a CGM, they can at least monitor their numbers while they’re at school or sleeping and take away some of the worry. But the truth is, you are always worried, and you will be forever until there’s a cure” says Sara.

It is for that reason The Turner Family have reaffirmed their commitment to JDRF through a total donation of $200,000 to support the most promising research both into a cure for type 1 diabetes, and into devices and therapies that can improve the lives of others living with the disease today.

“As a family we chatted about how we wanted to be remembered and decided it would be through a joint family donation to JDRF,” says Sara.

The Turner Family will be matching donations throughout December up to $100,000 until the end of the year.

Alex wants people to better understand what it really means to live with T1D:

“I need to think about every single piece of food I put in my mouth, or what activity I am going to do that day otherwise there could be severe repercussions. It all must be planned out. When I travel, even if it is just two hours out of the city, I must make sure that I’ve packed enough insulin and diabetes supplies.” says Alex. “What people need to know is that I do this every day – because it is what is keeping me alive.”

Something the family often thinks about is that Richard’s great-uncle passed away at 13 years old in 1900, from diabetes.

“Had he been born 30 years later; he would have lived. It was just 21 years later that insulin was discovered. Instead, he did not even make it to the age that Alex was diagnosed. It’s sobering. This is why we want to push funding for more research, like CGMs, other devices and ultimately a cure. Because you don’t know what the next discovery will be” says Sara.

JDRF is so grateful to the Turner Family for their incredible generosity. Their support will allow JDRF to continue funding the research that will get us closer to a world free from type 1 diabetes.

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