“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.”


Stay connected on the latest